Pen Pal program aims to relieve stress of isolation

4 mins read

FARMINGTON – With the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and with the current isolation people are facing, the need for connection is stronger than ever. That’s why the SPC Cyber Lions Club is starting a new local pen pal program. The intention of the program is to connect local residents with one another.

“The SPC Cyber Lions club started the program to help people feel less isolated, give people something to look forward to and maybe make connections in the community,” SPC Cyber Lions club member Erin Dyar said.

The program works by filling out an interest form and putting it in a box at the Senior Planning Center on Wilton Road. The form can also be mailed. The Cyber Lions will then try to match you with a person who shares similar interests.

“I collect the forms, either they can drop them off at the Senior Planning Center in Farmington or Skowhegan, or they can mail them in with the address on the form,” Dyar said. “Then I try to find people that have similar interests or some other connection…that I try to match them with.”

The SPC Cyber Lions club is a virtual, all-online branch of the International Lions Club.

The Lions Clubs International is a non-profit service organization with a global presence of 1.4 million members. Internationally they have focused on helping the hearing and vision impaired since 1925. They have provided test screenings and helped low income people get access to glasses and hearing aids.

Local poet Audrey Gidman, a strong proponent of letter writing, created the Love Letter Workshop with the purpose of connection in mind. For her, writing letters is a way to slow down and be thoughtful about what she’s choosing to say.

Local poet Audrey Gidman leads a Love Letter Workshop with the intention of connecting through craft. The Pen Pal program has the same aim- slow down and connect using traditional methods.

“Letters were all there was at one point. But, because that’s all there was, letter-writing evolved into a beautiful, in-depth, intimate means of exchange between lives,” Gidman said.

For Gidman, there is a different weight that letter writing carries.

“Imagine putting the phone down, grabbing a pen, and sitting down with a sheet of paper or a card and following the curve of every letter with your pen, slowly, slowly, telling this person how much you love them, or what’s been going on with you lately. The resonance shifts,” she said.

During the pandemic, writing letters can actually be a way to get closer to the people we are separated from, she said.

“I write letters to feel closer to people than I physically am, to give them a piece of me they can hold in their hand,” Gidman said. “This aspect of letter-writing is especially crucial during this era of Covid-19.”

Forms can be picked up at 648 Wilton Rd in Farmington. For more information contact Erin Dyar at 778-6565 Ext. 405 or edyar@spcmaine.com

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