‘You are beautiful:’ Students write notes for seniors at Ohio nursing home facilities

Hometown Heroes

PARMA, Ohio (WJW) — Lily Wolf is a thoughtful fifth grader at Holy Family School in Parma, Ohio.

In a letter Lily sent to a patient at a local nursing facility, she wrote, “I will be praying for you, I know you want to see your family and friends, but you can’t right now.”

Lily’s letter is one of the hundreds of notes of support that students at Holy Family sent to seniors at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“I feel like they’re alone and they need to have someone that loves them,” Lily said.

A teacher at Holy Family proposed the note writing campaign after receiving a series of phone calls from 86-year-old Joe Citino, who mistakenly thought he was calling his daughter.

“He would say that his fingers weren’t working as well anymore and so we just struck up a relationship. I would have him say hi to all my students, we would sing a quick song and it developed from there,” Kristine Riley said.

The kindergarten teacher said she decided that writing and sending encouraging notes and inspiring artwork to Citino and other seniors dealing with the challenges of the pandemic would be a good learning experience for her students. The project soon involved the entire student body at Holy Family.

“This was more than just academics, and when I saw what we could do for one, it just flowed throughout the school,” Riley said.

The notes have lifted the spirits of many of the seniors. One of them posted a thank you note on Facebook that read in part, “Reading the notes, there were smiles, chuckles and sometimes tears, because they were so caring.”

After suffering through a long period of isolation at a nursing facility, the kind words and thoughtful artwork gave Citino a new outlook.

“He called his daughter, she said he sounded so much more upbeat, and happy,” Riley said.

At the end of her note to one of the seniors, Lily wrote, “You are beautiful and amazing, push through this hard time when you can’t see anyone.”

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