Love for our Elders: UScellular Celebrates National Family Caregivers Month
UScellular is celebrating National Family Caregivers Month by honoring our associates and customers who give their time and support to family members of all ages. To start off the month, we’re sharing an associate’s story about caring for his dad by helping make connections offline.
Letter writing may seem old-fashioned, but it’s been shown to help boost positive feelings and connect people in beneficial ways. A United States Postal Service survey published in May 2020, showed more than half of respondents said receiving mail lifted their spirits and fostered a more meaningful connection to those they sent mail to.
A couple of years ago, UScellular human resources associates put the USPS survey results into action by joining a virtual volunteering activity writing cards and letters to cancer survivors, elders and pediatric patients. This volunteer activity had an unexpected impact on one associate, Frank Jacquez, senior manager of operations training and development. Frank signed up to help participants involved with Love for Our Elders, a nonprofit organization started in 2013 with the mission to help older adults overcome social isolation that could increase the risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke.
After he finished writing his letters, Frank checked out the Love For Our Elders website to learn more about the organization and quickly discovered he could nominate someone to receive letters. He instantly knew who that would be: His 91-year-old dad Julius “Jake” Jacquez.
“I thought if my dad is selected, it would liven up his winter,” said Frank.
Six months earlier, in June, Frank’s mom, Charlotte, unexpectedly passed away, leaving Jake, her husband of 55 years, a widower. Within months of her passing, Frank helped his dad move into a new home located within a couple hundred feet of Frank’s home to help his dad adjust and ensure loneliness didn’t set in.
Within weeks of submitting his nomination, Frank received a note that his dad was selected to be one of the “elders” profiled in February, and his dad could expect to receive 200 to 300 cards. When Frank told his dad about Love For Our Elders and that he would receive letters, Frank noted that his dad “was surprised that people who didn’t know him would write him.”
As February started, the cards and letters started filling up Frank’s mailbox. Each day, Frank would bring the letters and large envelopes filled with cards and notes over to his dad’s house and announce the number of new pieces of mail he received.
“I don’t know what the mail carrier must have thought was going on when we received all of these cards and letters crammed into the mailbox,” Frank commented.
Frank’s dad started out reading the new mail each day, but he realized he couldn’t keep up with all of the letters received. Daily, Frank’s dad would stop in at his house to share a snippet from a letter with Frank, his daughter-in-law Crystal and his grandchildren, Carlina and Harper. He received jokes from elementary school-age children, college students told Frank’s dad, a record collector, about the LPs they recently discovered, other people wrote to him about Colorado Springs where Frank’s sister and family live.
“The most memorable ones to my dad were the letters when the writer simply talked about their day,” Frank said.
As the month went on, the letters piled up and they quickly lost count of how many letters and cards he had received. After a trip to the store for rubber bands, Frank’s dad put the letters into packs of 25 to help him count the grand total. His grandchildren made their best guess at the total number of cards, but neither of them guessed that their grandfather received more than 1,300 cards that month!
A few more letters trickled in the following month, but Frank noted that “there’s now a void” in his dad’s day. To help fill the time and help others overcome loneliness, letter writing became a Jacquez family activity for a while. Frank helped his dad write letters to the new “elders” profiled on the Love For Our Elders website each month and Frank’s 11-year-old son, Harper, saw one of the “elders” had the same name as Harper’s great aunt, so he wrote to her about her name.
UScellular provides its associates with benefits and access to resources and programs to provide support and help associates thrive. Find more information on these benefits and resources on these Social Impact webpages: Total Rewards and DE&I.