June 1, 2020

Letters of Love – Beautiful Expressions of Compassion and Care

Resident Beatrix Stavros holding up a letter of love from the community

LONGMEADOW, Mass. – Like all families, Leigh McGrale Vengco and her three daughters, Lily, Grace and Teia were home socially distancing and trying to adjust to the new reality forced upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic. Leigh is a clinical social worker who has worked in skilled nursing facilities and long-term care units. Hearing about the fight against COVID-19 at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, and the no visitor policy instituted to protect against the spread of the virus, Leigh was looking for a way for her family to help out, make a difference and bring comfort to elders who were now physically isolated from their families.A JGS Lifecare resident reading her letter of love from the community

The family came up with the idea to encourage other school-age children to join them in creating bright greeting cards to lift resident spirits. “I believe having such contact from the outside world, especially from children with their creative and uplifting words and drawings, could help put a smile on someone’s face or maybe it would just be a nice way to let them know they’re being thought about. Maybe it will comfort them in this time of such uncertainty,” remarked Leigh.

Born was the idea to create a one week Facebook campaign for local students to create LETTERS OF LOVE and deliver them to the Vengco’s home. In one week’s time over 100 beautiful cards and letters came pouring in from students of all ages from the various Longmeadow schools. Leigh and her daughter Teia delivered them to the Leavitt Home, where the Life Enrichment staff passed them out to the residents.Holly Payne, Dianne Cusson and Deila Jones of the Life Enrichment staff

The cards warmed residents’ hearts, brought lots of smiles and lifted spirits. They contained poems, artwork, riddles, and expressions of kindness and caring. Like fourth grader Miya Steer’s beautiful flip card riddle that read: “What did the ocean say to the other ocean? (Flip for the answer) Nothing, it just waived.” “It is so nice to know that the children are thinking of us,” remarked Lois, who greatly appreciated the gesture and thought it was so sweet. Anna was so happy and surprised by the love given through the cards.

“During these challenging times, if there is a silver lining it is the many acts of goodwill, support and loving-kindness coming from members of the community. These cards from local children were so beautiful, and the messages so warm and even clever. They made our residents so happy. They are now hanging on resident bulletin boards and doorways throughout our building, bringing smiles to everyone who sees them. We are so grateful for this thoughtful gesture from the Vengco family and the many students who participated, they should know that their creative efforts warmed people’s hearts,” remarked Susan Kimball Halpern, Vice President of Development & Communications.


About Leavitt Family Jewish Home

The Leavitt Family Jewish Home offers 24/7 long-term skilled nursing care including cognitive and memory impairment care, as well as full service rehabilitation therapies , palliative and hospice care, and certified music therapy. People of all faiths put their trust in the Leavitt Family Jewish Home. Resident-focused services are provided in a setting that is as home-like as possible, including 112 private rooms, spacious social areas and inviting dining spaces. Staff prioritizes every resident’s adjustment to illness or injury and design services to meet every resident’s individual needs. Patients’ families are also part of every comprehensive care plan, receiving support and counseling to make a smooth adjustment to care. For more information, call The Leavitt Family Jewish Home at 413-567-6211 or visit jgslifecare.org.

About JGS Lifecare

JGS Lifecare is a leading health care system serving seniors and their families. JGS Lifecare services include nursing home care (The Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home), rehabilitation services (Sosin Center for Rehabilitation), assisted living (Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence), home health and hospice care (Spectrum Home Health & Hospice), adult day health care (Wernick Adult Day Health Care), independent living (Genesis Lifecare) and palliative care (Francis B. Cohen Palliative Care Progra). For more information, call JGS Lifecare at 413-567-6211 or visit JGSLIfecare.org.