Greeting cards make senders and recipients smile

Getting a greeting card always makes people generally happy. Of course, there are emails and text messages to send a note. Email messages are so warm and fuzzy. Oh, not really. A real card is special.

Sara Lawson, of Elkhart, couldn’t agree more. She is a card sender. She is one of the volunteers of a non-profit organization called Bring Smiles to Seniors. She loves everything. “I’ve been making cards as a hobby for years and sending them to friends. I was in Florida and a friend was involved there (smiles).

The friend asked him to write messages on some cards. Sara was excited to help others with some cards. She signed to sign more.

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Sara and many others sent messages. In 2021, 300,000 cards were sent by volunteers in all 50 states. Cards go to nursing homes and Meals on Wheels for delivery.

Then there was more to come. Lola’s Smile Bunch is from the original group. Lola’s volunteers send cards to people living at home who need a pick-me-up, a smile or a chuckle.

Hello, Sara. Why would you want to get involved? “I believe in volunteering. It’s a great way to help,” Sara said.

Sara is involved in both Bring Smiles and Lola’s Smile. That’s a lot of cards. “I don’t think about the expense or the time. All members of the Lola group receive a name page every month. » Each name is approved by a family member before the cards are sent. “I sent birthday cards, veteran cards, thinking of you.” She estimates that she sends more than 70 cards per month.

Bring Smiles to Seniors was founded in 2016 by Ron Tyson, from Florida. He said in a phone interview that it was all because of his grandmother, Lola Mae. She was in a retirement home. “I noticed that many elderly residents had no visitors or nothing on their walls.” The isolation was hard to forget.

Ron thought a map would do. How about lots of cards?

He posted the idea on Facebook and was overwhelmed with the responses. The ball was rolling. There were 7,000 cards in the first year at nursing facilities in Florida. Institutions for the elderly heard about it and asked to be put on the list to receive cards.

The volunteer organization Bring Smiles to Seniors sends greeting cards to seniors in nursing homes and through Meals on Wheels.  In 2021, 300,000 cards were sent by volunteers in all 50 states.

Social groups and classrooms signed up to help with messages and maps. Sara brings cards to lunches and her friends take time before the food is served to write inspirational messages.

Once the cards are filled with messages, they are sent to Florida. Cards are mass mailed from Florida to activity directors nationwide and then distributed to individuals.

“We don’t have a physical office, all the work is done by volunteers,” Ron said.

Katrina Mangold, who is Tanglewood’s business manager in South Bend, said the cards are loved and cherished at Tanglewood. “During the pandemic, when everything was confined, the cards were a ray of sunshine. When you see their faces light up, you know it’s worth it. It brings a lot of love.

Bob Lux, a retired WSBT radio personality, said he started receiving cards at home after a medical problem. “I was getting a few cards a day. Beautiful cards all saying they care and pray for me. I got at least 100 cards.”

Bob said the people on the card are amazing and bring so much joy and blessings. “It’s a great story about helping others.”

Ron said it turned out to be a great way to keep people’s spirits up and happy. He gets feedback about the benefits all the time. “I have a full-time job that feeds my stomach. This feeds my soul.

For more information on volunteering, signing or donating, visit bringmilestoseniors.com or check out the Facebook page.

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Alfred Guillaume Jr. recently received the Chancellor’s Medal from Indiana University in South Bend. The Medal is awarded by the Chancellor to an individual who demonstrates outstanding support for IUSB and serves as a role model for students and alumni through integrity, leadership and commitment.

Alfred was a professor of French and retired in 2013 as IUSB’s Executive Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He volunteers, sits on several boards and recently led a private fundraising campaign to purchase a bronze statue of Harriet Tubman for the city of South Bend.

The Night of the Titan event also awarded seven Alumni of the Year awards. The recipients and schools were: Andrea BrayErnestine M. Raclin School of Arts; ivy butlerSchool of Education; Kristi DunnSouth Bend IU Libraries; Aja EllingtonSchool of Social Work; Steven TurnerCollege of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Rebecca Wooster, Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences; and Rudy Yakym IIIJudd Leighton School of Business and Economics.

Contact Kathy at kfborlik@yahoo.com.

Mika R. Pyle