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
- You submit a letter through the site.
- The letters then get printed out & sent to meal service centers for the elderly.
- The letters are distributed into the food baskets to reach senior citizens.
Proof of Concept
- 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 2,200+ letters across 30 hospitals in the US.
- 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.
According to a fifty year study conducted by Harvard University, human connection is the single most important component of happiness. That's why the concept of sending physical, individual notes is so powerful.
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.
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.
Raised $1,500 USD for Notes for Support, a partner program.
What's Next + Value after the Crisis
- Getting a domain & putting up the site.
- 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.