Week #117 – Four Weeks to Happyness: Send Happy Mail! (with Renee Eisman)
Greetings Happyness Tribe — and Happy Friday!
This week, I’m pleased to shine that spotlight on Hopatcong native, Renee Eisman — who is the Mail Program Manager for Bring Smiles to Forgotten Seniors. “Bring Smiles” is a non-profit in Odessa, Florida that works with schools and organizations to decorate cards for seniors that are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and homebound.
Their motto is “One card, one smile at a time.”
I’d seen Renee’s Facebook posts with photos of all the mail she sends — but a recent post caught my eye. It was an email and photo from an 81-year-old man in East Brunswick, NJ — writing to thank HER for the cards! He wrote:
“As you know, I am 81-years-old and don’t have much to look forward to until these letters started to come in. Who are these people that would send a card to someone they don’t know? Just to cheer them up.”
Well, Renee is one of those people!
I contacted her to learn more about the program, how she got involved, and — most important — how she went from sending zero to 150/200 cards PER MONTH in less than a year!
150/200 cards PER MONTH! That’s a lot of smiles!
Renee’s story began about two years ago — when she first moved to Florida. “I fell and hit my head two months after relocating.” Renee suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain). Surgery and recovery followed. “I never really had the chance to look for work.”
So Renee started mailing cards and letters to friends and family — to pass the time.
“I always sent a lot of mail to friends and family when I moved to Florida.” And as things go — once you start doing something, you start seeing it in other places. She saw individual Facebook posts from friends, acquaintances, and other programs requesting cards for seniors, shut-ins, and children with special needs. So she added them to her list!
“I enjoyed writing and decorating cards…I call it my arts and craft time.”
And then, in the spring of this year, “I saw a post in my newsfeed from the local TV station in Florida about (Bring Smiles) and ways to help. I immediately put a package together to send to them.”
Renee started donating supplies (cards and stickers) to Bring Smiles for a few months — and after a while, started chatting with the program’s founder Ron Tyson (a former Jefferson, NJ local). “I was hoping to go visit nursing homes with them but the timing never seemed to work.”
Renee continued to donate cards and supplies to the program though — all while continuing to grow her own private mailing list. And then, in June — Ron decided to begin a home mailing program. And Renee immediately volunteered to be in charge.
Since then, Renee has worked up to sending 150/200 cards per month!
“I was used to working 40-50 hours a week. It’s good for my mental health to keep busy and have a purpose.”
Bring Smiles operates 100% on donations for all expenses and supplies…and happily, one of Renee’s biggest challenges is keeping her supplies organized! “It’s a lot to take out all the cards, stickers, stampers, postage, etc.” But it’s worth it.
And the joy just doesn’t come from SENDING cards. “The surprises have been receiving cards in return from a few people I send to.” Of course, there are those moments when cards are returned, or she finds out through posts that one of the seniors — or children — have passed.
“I know that I’m sending a smile and making the difference in someone’s day…that’s what keeps me going.”
Ultimately, Renee would like to start a branch of the program in New Jersey — including local home deliveries and visits. In the meantime, she’s going to keep sending cards. To date, Bring Smiles has sent or delivered over 6,000 cards — and received over 10,000 “Likes” on Facebook.
What about you Happyness Tribe? Care to send a little “Happy Mail” this week?
Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: SEND HAPPY MAIL! Visit “Bring Smiles” or one of the other organizations below to find out how you can send “Happy Mail” to seniors, shut-ins, or children in need. Better yet, Renee challenges everyone this week to send even one card to someone who needs a smile, even it it’s someone you personally know. “Sending just one card, one time, and making one person smile is a great feeling.”
Renee says, “Happyness to me is contentment with my life and feeling good about the things I do and the choices I make. I enjoy making others smile.”
Spread Happyness — SEND HAPPY MAIL! (And check out the links below for more info on Renee’s favorite organizations or to sign up for notifications.)
(And if you or someone you know is hosting their own local charity event or fundraiser that Spreads Happyness directly to those who need it — please let me know! I’d love to feature them on the blog!)
12/9/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
(PS: Special thanks to Renee Eisman for taking the time to share the details of her story with me this week! To learn more about Bring Smiles to Forgotten Seniors, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nursinghomesmiles) — or contact Renee directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)