This N.L. teen wanted to cheer up a retirement home. So she wrote letters — 124 of them

·3 min read
13-year-old Allison Young spent hours hand-writing letters to seniors inside a Bay Roberts retirement home, hoping to spread a little love. (Submitted by Rebecca Young - image credit)
13-year-old Allison Young spent hours hand-writing letters to seniors inside a Bay Roberts retirement home, hoping to spread a little love. (Submitted by Rebecca Young - image credit)
13-year-old Allison Young spent hours hand-writing letters to seniors inside a Bay Roberts retirement home, hoping to spread a little love.
13-year-old Allison Young spent hours hand-writing letters to seniors inside a Bay Roberts retirement home, hoping to spread a little love.(Submitted by Rebecca Young)

Allison Young could have whipped up a batch of cookies for her mom and probably aced her school project.

But the 13-year-old Bay Roberts student took her "good deed" assignment a step further, spending countless hours writing 124 letters to an entire retirement home — Tiffany Village in St. John's.

"My mom works in there, and I thought to send some to the people on her floor." Young told CBC News. "And then I decided that I didn't want anybody to be left out. So I sent it to the rest of the building."

"Allison didn't want to disappoint anyone," said Rebecca Young, Allison's mother.

"When I was on my shift, I wrote a list of all the residents and their suite numbers in the building, and she did all the hard work from there."

Rebecca offered to hand-deliver the cards, but Allison refused, pointing out a letter under the door just wouldn't have the same effect.

"I like getting stuff in the mail, and I thought other people would, too," Allison said.

One of the many letters mailed out to the seniors.
One of the many letters mailed out to the seniors.(Submitted by Rebecca Young)

As each resident discovered their own personal note, Rebecca lamented her daughter's absence. "I just wish that Allison could have experienced it firsthand," she said.

These days, when Rebecca makes her rounds, residents ask her to give Allison a hug from them. She's even caught some of them whispering about her. "That's Allison's mom," they say.

"Just this small little act brightened so many days," Rebecca said.

"Everybody just loved it. The residents were so appreciative, and she loved getting their little notes back, wondering what does she want to be when she grows up, if she's happy to be back in school?

"It's really bridging a generational gap."

Margot Evans was 'most impressed' by Young's idea.
Margot Evans was 'most impressed' by Young's idea.(Submitted by Andrea Janes)

Pen pals

The last year hasn't been kind to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in long-term care facilities. Locked down on two occasions, seniors inside have been denied frequent visitation from outside their immediate contacts and have been cut off from the outside world for long stretches of time.

Tiffany Village resident Margot Evans said she's fared well overall through the pandemic, but roundly appreciated the gesture from Young.

Evans opened her mailbox one day to find the unexpected letter, penned by a 13-year-old stranger.

"I says, 'My goodness ... A lot of people that age don't want anything to do with adults,'" Evans said, reached by phone in the residence.

Young got some letters back, too, thanking her for the kind words.
Young got some letters back, too, thanking her for the kind words.(Submitted by Rebecca Young)

"I was most impressed ... she must be a girl that's very interested in others."

Evans — and about a dozen of her neighbours — wrote back.

Young is now working on replying to those, despite a bit of a sore hand.

"It hurts a little," she laughs.

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