You are appreciated. Stay safe and strong. Keep smiling and take care of yourself.
These are excerpts from a couple of the dozens of notes of thanks and encouragement Jane Wilkins penned to staff at Shoreham Village in Chester.
"I just wrote them from the heart," the 91-year-old Wilkins told LighthouseNOW about her effort.
The great-grandmother and long-time resident of Chester delivered 180 cards to the seniors' complex recently as a thank-you to the frontline employees who're working through the challenges of providing care in the current COVID-19 pandemic world.
"The staff are really loved in there and I always said they were angels before COVID-19," Wilkins explained, "and they have to be so careful."
The Shoreham Village Foundation board of directors wanted to do something special for the staff during the ongoing health crisis as a weekly show of support, and asked for ideas. Wilkins, a former board chairwoman and volunteer, felt she could re-purpose the mass of celebration and sympathy cards received in recent years; cards that marked her 90th birthday and condolences for the passing of her husband.
Wilkins believed the comforting images of flowers and the like would go over well.
She spent weeks hand-writing notes onto the cards, which had been modified to remove any personal or identifying information linked to previous senders. Wilkins had some help from a couple of friends who knew their way around stationery.
Wilkins's intent was to quietly drop off the material at Shoreham with no fanfare.
The foundation's board of directors had other ideas and notified the media.
"The cards are beautiful and it's been a way for her to give back and create a wonderful project," foundation chairwoman Janet Creaser told LighthouseNOW. "It's just a good news story."
Alice Leverman, chairwoman of Shoreham's board of directors, was also heartened by Wilkins's expression of gratitude.
"This is a difficult and strange time we are all living through. It is reassuring to know we have so many caring people in our community who, like Jane, are always thinking of others," Leverman told LighthouseNOW.
While happy to give Shoreham some good publicity, Wilkins was excited about making the delivery where she was greeted by many smiling faces outside the complex.
"It was a new experience," she said.