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  • Virus causes separation, but Pima Love Notes project connects

    A card. A message. A hand-colored picture. Words of motivation, inspiration.

    The goal of the Pima Love Notes project is simple yet significant.

    “We want to send a smile,” says Cecilia Nguyen.

    Nguyen is the volunteer coordinator with the Pima County Emergency Operations Center amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The targets of those smiles are people in long-term care and assisted-living facilities who are isolated from friends and family due to health restrictions because of the coronavirus.

    The volunteer group, with the support of the Pima County Health Department, hatched the idea of Pima Love Notes in April. The concept helps connect the community and volunteers with those who might need some unexpected sunshine.
    Love notes
    “We figured it would be a good call to action – hey, these long-term care facilities and their staff are isolated from everybody right now,” Nguyen said. “They aren’t allowed to see visitors, and even the workers have to isolate from their own families because there are a lot of congregate cases at these sites.”

    It’s easy for you to help.

    Visit the Pima Love Notes website for guidelines on messaging and safety, download cards and coloring pages to assist your creative process, and find a list of participating facilities. A still-growing list of 55 facilities had signed up to receive Love Notes as of early July.

    "This is really designed to enable you, even if you don't have a loved one in assisted living or long-term care, to reach out to them,” Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said in a video last month. “Let them know that you care; let them know that people are thinking about them.  

    "This is an important time in our community to show our compassion and our caring for each other. This is a small way that any member of the community should be able to do that."

    Some community groups are ready to help in a big way.

    Among those communities who have rallied to participate in the project are The Garden Kitchen, the Tanque Verde Lutheran Church, Women of Quail Creek, neighborhood groups on the Nextdoor app, and the Ruth and Irving Olson Center for Jewish Life. That last group, in conjunction with PJ Library, is holding a Zoom meeting on the morning of July 14 for a virtual card-making project. Registration is free.

    The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is another group smitten by Pima Love Notes.

    Gentry Spronken, the museum’s associate director and director of marketing, said she was inspired one early morning after seeing a Facebook post about the Love Notes project.

    Love notes“I immediately thought of ways our museum could participate,” she said. “So, I sent this email off to the staff and was super-excited about it. Mid-day comes around, and I hadn’t heard from anybody. I was so disappointed; did no one think this was as awesome as I do? And it turns out I hadn’t hit send on the email. Once I did that, we had full buy-in. It’s such a great project and we’re happy to participate.”

    The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is in the process of activating its volunteers to produce 250 packages that include positive messages and surplus art prints.

    “During normal times, we have a lot of groups that visit from senior-care facilities or memory-care facilities, and their caregivers and the people that visit with them frequently mention how miniatures really resonate with them,” Spronken said. “Knowing we have so many of those kind of groups visit with us, it’s a nice opportunity for us to get in touch with them and share a little bit of our collection with them.”

    Although Pima Love Notes can’t do anything about reducing the physical distances required to stay safe and slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is doing its part to narrow the social separation.

    Send a smile.

    Send two.

    Or three.

    Or more.


    “We’ve had people from facilities who signed up, saying, ‘Thank you so much for this; this means a lot,’” Nguyen said. “There has been a lot of gratitude and positivity. We’re hoping this is going to keep building and snowballing. Recently, we’re seeing that.”
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