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Postcards Reach 50,000+ in November: Sending Hope

November 23, 2020

It’s hard to think of a postcard making a difference in 2020: pen on paper with a few sentences, a slight nod in postage, and off it goes to a recipient. How much good can one piece of mail really make?


What about 50,000 pieces? For the Milwaukee-based non-profit TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, it’s these small pieces of art engagement that are reducing isolation the old-fashioned way across the globe. In a world overtaken by screen meetings, virtual options for gathering and the loss of one-on-one connection in real time, a pen and paper are making an impact. And the program is free as part of the organization’s larger, ongoing commitment to reduce isolation.


“What started in March of this year with a few dozen care communities asking to be placed on the list has grown to almost 150 organizations around the globe,” states Carol Varney, TimeSlips’ Executive Director.  Called ‘the Postcard Challenge’ “This project has created beautiful moments for so many individuals in the most unexpected places. While our mission is to create meaning and joy for elders, this year has given everyone a window into what connection can do to restore hope for anyone involved.”

“We have young children writing to individuals with their parents’ help; high school and college students using this as part of their service learning requirement; and organizations using this to reach out because they see so much devastation with so manh experiencing some form of isolation.”

Initially, TimeSlips aimed to have 10,000 postcards sent by the end of the year. The numbers continued to grow, though, after an interactive map was developed where individuals could select where to send cards, the numbers ballooned. Currently, the total is more than 20,000.

A second postcard program, with postcards fashioned with a “Beautiful Question” on the front, launched mid-Spring. Designed by Lafayette/American, the postcards were printed by Harper Collins and publicized by LeadingAge. More than 40,000 were distributed to 245 care communities.

A Beautiful Question is anything that invites one into a conversation that may draw on the senses. Currently, these are being used in Meals on Wheels programs as conversation starters with individuals isolated at home, with elders in quarantine at care communities who want to write to their friends and family, and as outreach at senior centers and libraries. TimeSlips set up a 1-800 number, as well, so individuals from around the world can call in and leave their response to the Beautiful Questions.   


Immediately, TimeSlips began seeing and hearing the hope the postcards were generating.

“Our goal with everything we do is to connect people creatively,” states Kathy Hawkins, TimeSlips Program Coordinator. “We’re receiving notes, emails and messages thanking us for what it is doing. In March, I received a note from an enrichment coordinator in the South who wrote, ‘Thank you in advance for offering this wonderful free service. I have looked at your company’s website and Facebook page as a result of this and will share it with our Life Enrichment team.’ 

“These notes have served more tangible needs during loss, as well,” Hawkins continued. “A care community that had a fire in mid-Summer, Oakridge Gardens, in Wisconsin, has received special postcards with hearts on them from more than 100 people. They laminated the postcards to sanitize and share them as a display. There are ways to connect, even as the challenges of COVID-19 persist.”

The postcard challenge can be found at https://timeslips.org/postcard-challenge. For more information about the work of TimeSlips Creative storytelling, go to https://www.timeslips.org. If you work for a care community and would like to sign up to receive postcards written by individuals around the world, email info@timeslips.org and ask to be placed on “Postcards - A Little Creative Care”.