Pen Pal Friendships Form with Hazelwood Residents

People writing letters

Shawna Greenwell was looking for a way to help Hazelwood community home residents build relationships with the community. Since 1971, Hazelwood in Louisville has served the region as an Intermediate Care Facility, supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. New Vista has operated Hazelwood since 2018, with the goal to assist people in developing skills and interests to help them live meaningful, balanced lives.

A Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional at Hazelwood, Greenwell said she had the idea to reach out to her daughter's teacher at Cox Creek Elementary School. "I thought it would be a good learning experience for the kids in her class and would benefit our residents with building a friendship with someone in the community," she said.

The teacher agreed and the fourth-grade class began writing letters to exchange with residents in Meadows, Del Maria and Windsong community homes, which are part of Hazelwood. Now the pen pals exchange letters regularly and the students are thrilled to receive responses from residents.  

The fourth-graders have also been inspired by Windsong resident Paul Hall's fundraising efforts for the WHAS Crusade for Children, Greenwell said, and have even read Paul's Crusade, the book he published with the help of Physical Therapist, Tony Cummings.

“We hope that this can be a friendship for both our clients and the students that can transform into more,” she said. As we continue into spring and warmer weather, the class is hoping to plan a field trip to a local park to meet their pen pals soon and fundraise to help Hall’s efforts with the Crusade for Children.  

This connection is an example of the amazing team members and residents at New Vista who make the community a better place.