Effort sends holiday greetings to elderly

THINKING OF YOU — Alissa and Arica Tehan, of New Hartford, help out by writing messages of holiday cheer as part of the Cards Across America program. Alissa, an insurance professional, and Arica, a pharmacy student, are the granddaughters of Virginia Viscosi, one of the program organizers.pharmacy student, are the granddaughters of Virginia Viscosi, one of the program organizers.

A trio of area nursing homes, including the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 801 N. James St., have been picked for a pilot program to deliver holiday cheer to residents.


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, thousands of families have agonized over the tremendous obstacles and restrictions with trying to visit with loved ones, say organizers of the Cards Across America effort.


“Our most vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, assisted living and memory care facilities have faced unprecedented isolation for months, and the Christmas and holiday season may not be the much hoped for jolly ‘ol time this year,” reads a statement from project organizers.


“While visiting with family and friends in facilities may be on hold,“ sending bunches of Christmas wishes and holiday cheer is not going stop,” said Virginia Viscosi, area director of Cards Across America. Viscosi and her niece, Rosemarie Gaston, of Florida, noted recently the sheer enjoyment and instant joy several of their cards brought to Virgina’s sister (also her niece’s mother) who has resided in memory care since June.

Also on the local list of pilot facilities this year are Charles T. Sitrin Healthcare Center, 2050 Tilden Ave., New Hartford, 13413, and Brookdale Senior Living, 115 Brookdale Drive, Clinton, 13323.


“It’s such a simple thing to do but it has a great impact for those who are not seeing their family now,” said Gaston, Florida director with Save Our Seniors-Save America, a community outreach organization started in Southwest Florida.


Viscosi and Gaston, a former Utica resident, have been working with friends, family and neighbors mailing out cheery cards spreading Christmas joy and sharing many good wishes for the holiday season. “It’s a wonderful way for seniors to feel connected to family, friends and their community,” Viscosi said, of their local cards efforts in central New York. The card drive is community-driven, and the organizers invite those interested to “send a card and send some cheer.” Cards may be addressed to “Residents and Staff” and should be from “Friends-Cards Across America.”


Individuals may include their names but that is optional, organizers said, and writers can also add personal remarks, stories or a letters. “With so many other facilities in Central New York, an extra card sent to a facility of your choice will be greatly appreciated as well,” the organizers added.
The Cards Across America program that began in Southwest Florida, selected three states — New York, Florida and Texas — with high senior populations and chose facilities to be in a “pilot” program for the 2020 holiday season. The group is using data from the pilot to assess how best to expand and determine considerations for other card mailings.