Inspiration

Two years ago, I was in quarantine for a month due to a disease. During that time, I faced severe loneliness & anxiety, so get-well-soon cards from friends meant the world to me because it showed that I wasn't alone. Knowing that thousands of senior citizens are now experiencing social isolation, putting them at risk of many chronic health conditions, inspired me to create this project.

What it does

  1. You submit a letter through the site.
  2. The letters then get printed out & sent to meal service centers for the elderly.
  3. The letters are distributed into the food baskets to reach senior citizens.

Proof of Concept

  1. Experience: I started Notes for Support, a website with a very similar premise but targeting an entirely different group (COVID-19 patients & healthcare workers). So far, I've printed & sent 2,600+ letters across 30 hospitals in the US.
  2. Connection: A close family member is a volunteer at one of the senior meal service centers in CA & have confirmed that a program like this would be much welcomed.

How I built it

I first built a digital prototype out on PowerPoint. I then built the site with node.js & some other programming languages. I've already had experience using this framework so it wasn't a huge challenge, but thinking about the general format was quite difficult.

Impact

There is something so powerful in receiving a personal, physical letter -- it reminds you that you're not alone. This is something that I've experienced myself & through my other project (Notes for Support), had thousands of patients & healthcare workers experience as well. Loneliness can kill while a personal letter can save a life.

Challenges, Accomplishments & Lessons

The biggest challenge was definitely the time constraint -- I found out about this hackathon late & would have loved to add more features. However, I'm proud of pulling an all-nighter to finish this project. I learned to just go for it instead of contemplating if you have enough time.

What's Next + Value after the Crisis

  1. Getting a domain & putting up the site.
  2. Printing & sending the notes received to senior meal service centers!

Even before the pandemic, senior citizens were always at risk of health issues associated with loneliness. It is just that shelter-in-place has exacerbated the issue. After the crisis, this program will still be continued to support the elderly population.

Design: lachlanjc.

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