Connecting with Neighbors:
My family and I love the summer. Our schedules are more relaxed, we can let our daughters stay up a little later and we spend more time outdoors. One particular summer activity we enjoy is taking evening walks in the neighborhood. These strolls provide a wonderful opportunity for us to take in the nature around us and connect with our neighbors. In our particular neighborhood many of the people who live near us are older, retired adults, some living alone.
According to the Pew Research Center older adults, especially ages 85 and over, are significantly more likely to feel sad, lonely, like a burden, or not feel needed compared with younger adults. The research also cites that companionship and connection with others are key components of their life satisfaction and happiness (Pew Research Center article).
When thinking about a simple service that my daughters (1 and 6) could do I thought that reaching out to our neighbors, particularly these older individuals who might be by themselves, would be a great way to give back.
My oldest daughter and I decided that a guaranteed way to bring cheer to these and other neighbors would be by sharing something everyone loves, cookies! In order to avoid visiting people while they were gone or busy we created a flyer that explained the simple service we were planning. Here is what our flyer looked like:
We then distributed the flyers to 14 different homes about a week before the date of our visit.
Slowly over the course of the week we started to hear back from different neighbors. Some emailed to say they so appreciated the thought but would be out of town. One neighbor who is older and living alone called to say she was so excited to have us and it made her day to hear that young children were doing something so thoughtful. She said she does get lonely and children always cheer her up. I shared all these sentiments with my girls and I could tell that my older daughter especially felt proud that she was making such a positive impact.
Day of our Neighborhood Cookie Delivery:
We happened to have family friends visiting from out of town on the day of our simple service and they loved the idea and decided to join us on our neighborhood cookie delivery. We bought break and bake cookies to save on prep and clean up time.
When the cookies were ready we wrapped them up on plates and started our walk. It was a bit of a challenge juggling cookies while holding the hands of three small children so in the future I think having a wagon to hold the cookies would be a helpful addition.
We ended up only making a few stops because many neighbors were out of town or didn't reply but the people we did visit seemed genuinely appreciative that we had come by to say hello.
The whole experience was very uplifting for my daughters and myself. We plan to do this again and we look forward to making more cookies and more lasting neighborhood friendships.
If you would like to do a similar cookie delivery in your neighborhood here is a link to the flyer we used. We just printed it off as is and hand wrote in the specifics. If you are interested in hearing about other ways people are trying to ease the loneliness among our aging population check out this podcast.