Year 9 student Eva Petkovich’s original Duke of Ed plan was usurped by covid. That resulted in Eva reaching out to six isolated local aged care home residents and regularly writing to them as Pen Pals during the lockdown. Read her story….
Eva, please tell us what you are doing for your Duke of Ed this year?
For my service part of Duke of Ed I wrote to residents living in a nursing home during the quarantine period. I wrote to residents once a week and spoke about my life and what was happening and created a companionship during a tough time.
How did the Pen Pal activity come about? Whose idea was it?
I initially was volunteering in a childcare centre but due to covid-19 I wasn't able to continue, so I had to come up with something else Mum asked around and Aveo Lindfield Gardens said that they would be happy to participate in pen pals, so really it was mum’s idea to write the letters.
Who do you write to? And are they hand written letters or email?
I wrote to six residents, two letters each week and just followed down a list in order to make sure I didn't leave anyone in the home, out. My letters were hand written and I would always stick a floral heart on the envelope, so the residents knew it was from me.
Do they write back to you?
Some do, some don't, one lady wrote to me every week and others I never got a response from. This did not bother me at all because for me it was more about keeping them distracted during the isolation period.
Will you get to meet your Pen Pal/s?
I'm not sure. Hopefully once all restrictions are lifted I will be able to meet and get to know them.
How does it make you feel to know that you are gifting these senior people some great joy?
I feel accomplished at the thought that my letters are making people happy and that I am able to share a bit of my life with them and them share a bit of their life with me.
What have you learned from this experience?
Probably to listen to everyone's story. For example, after writing to a lady about Jindabyne and how I was boarding there in third term she replied to me, saying how she grew up on a farm there and skied in Thredbo a few times. This was such a surprise to me and we wrote often to each other about the snow and her life when she was younger. It was so nice to be able to connect with someone through similar life experiences.