A unique pen pal friendship blossoms

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Remote volunteer program Brightwater Buddies has provided opportunities for community members to connect with Brightwater aged care and disability residents from afar, and the progress to date has been rewarding not only for Brightwater clients, but also for the volunteers.

The program has seen some beautiful connections flourish in a short space of time, including Brightwater volunteer Isabella Norrish and her buddy Valerie Melrose from Brightwater Onslow Gardens. Isabella and Valerie have exchanged letters, and bonded over their mutual interests including the fact that they both studied at the University of Western Australia.

Isabella said she has enjoyed being a Brightwater Buddy and getting to know Valerie.

“It is a fantastic way of giving back to the community, I have loved my experience with Brightwater Buddies so far and getting to know Valerie, I didn't think we would get to know each other so personally - I thought the letters would be less detailed or in-depth, however I am very glad they are not,” Isabella said. 

“I was looking at giving back to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and a friend of mine mentioned that she would be acquiring a buddy at one of the Brightwater age care facilities, I jumped on the opportunity straight away, knowing that a letter to a buddy would not take long at all - and would make a big difference to someone's day!

“I have previously had family members in age care facilities; I have seen the importance of socialising and companionship in age care homes, which has driven my awareness and motivation to help in this field.”

Valerie has also enjoyed the Brightwater Buddies program and has been enthusiastically responding to the letters she has received.

“It’s been absolutely beautiful receiving these letters and Isabella sounds lovely, it’s been great to hear from her,” said Valerie.

When Valerie decided to call Onslow Gardens her home, she was concerned she might lose her connection to the community, but her experience has been very social and positive at Brightwater, including connecting with new friends through Brightwater Buddies.

“I absolutely love it here, one of things I was fearful of in having to give up my unit and make up my mind about moving into a home was the fear of losing the connection with the outside, but it’s not like that at all it’s so lovely here,” said Valerie.

Valerie and Isabella said they would like to continue their friendship once volunteers are able to visit Brightwater sites in the future.

“I would love to continue getting to know Valerie after things go back to normal if she would like that as well,” said Isabella.

“It is lovely during this time when family and friends can’t see me as regularly as normal, I’m looking forward to the time when we can meet up,” said Valerie.

Volunteers bring extremely valuable support to clients. Brightwater relies on this support to give clients a sense of community, provide interesting engagement and build friendships outside of their normal care routine.

Learn more about the Brightwater Buddies program here.