Connecting Port Stephens’ locals to NSW’s elderly residents through Heart Pen Letter Port Stephens Port Stephens News by News Of The Area - Modern Media - December 16, 2020 November Sheehan at Sunnyfield Disability Services where the Swap n Drop Crew are based. Photo by Marian Sampson. CONNECTION has been one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic. Advertise with News of The Area today. It’s worth it for your business. Message us. Phone us – (02) 4981 8882. Email us – [email protected] Particularly the elderly have been left isolated and disconnected from their communities as they have locked down and stayed home to stay safe. As one of the most vulnerable age groups impacted by COVID-19, the elderly have done their part and paid a high price. Many of these same people either fought in wars to give us the quality of life that we have, or endured rationing and blackouts at night to keep safe during the days of WWII. Now it is our turn to let them know that they are not forgotten. That they matter and that their sacrifice in 2020 has not been unseen. Port Stephens local November Sheehan founded Heart Pen Letter in the midst of the pandemic and engages with members of the community to provide messages of hope for our elderly. The initiative initially started to deliver a nice crafty card with an uplifting message to residents in Port Stephens many aged care facilities. However the movement has grown and now letters and cards have been sent around the state to areas where there are people left isolated by the pandemic. The cards are being distributed from Port Stephens locals to Muswellbrook, Nowra, Canberra, Lithgow, Byron Bay, Penrith, Blacktown, Wollongong, Taree, Parkes, Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Ulladulla, Mayfield, Coffs Harbour, Mudgee, Maitland, Batemans Bay, Lidcombe, Rooty Hill, North Parramatta, Wentworth Falls, Denman, Forster, Norah Head, Scone, Erina, Bowral, Maroubra, Shoalhaven, Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Broken Hill and Grafton. Founder of Heart Letter Pen November Sheehan told News Of The Area, “We changed the name from Pen Pals as there was a bit of confusion with some people expecting the recipients to respond. “That’s not what this is about – it is sending a kind message – not adding more work for staff in the care facilities.” Initially the service was delivered into residential aged care, now it is expanding into the home care setting as well. “We have over 2,000 Christmas cards to distribute already and the target is 3,000.” The cut off for placing Christmas cards into the Heart Letter Pen collection boxes is 20 December. All Christmas message cards should be marked on the outside of the envelope with Christmas and all envelopes should remain unsealed. The collection boxes are situated in retail outlets around Port Stephens and you can visit the Facebook page to find your nearest drop off point. The program is also offering inclusion at another level with a Swap and Drop Crew from Sunnyfield Disability Services taking on the mammoth task of collecting the cards professionally and COVID-19 safe. You can still send some messages to brighten someone’s day before Christmas or if you are in a position to do so donate some cards, or Express Port Satchels to Heart Letter Pen to assist November in sharing a community connection to those who have missed out on so much this year. By Marian SAMPSON The Swap n Drop Crew.