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Letter-writing campaign aims to increase social connection

Dear Coastal Neighbour
letters

Sunshine Coast Community Services, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health, School District No. 46 and Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice, has launched a campaign aimed at strengthening social connectedness in the community.

Dear Coastal Neighbour is a one-way letter-writing initiative that will provide a small, but personal gesture of non-digital connection to those on the Sunshine Coast, many of whom are facing increased isolation, stress, and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coast residents of all ages are invited to put pen to paper and share their stories, pictures, poems, and support. 

Whether following a template or creating their own layout, participants are being asked to write from the heart, sharing positive, thoughtful and kind messages. Letters can be addressed directly to members of a specific group (e.g., General Neighbours, Seniors, Frontline Workers, Children and Youth, New Mums) or written more generally to community members at large.

Participants are then being asked to mail their letter directly to Community Services at P.O. Box 1069, Sechelt, BC, V0N 3A0, or hand-deliver to one of several designated Dear Coastal Neighbour community “mailboxes.”

Once collected, the Dear Coastal Neighbour team will ensure that each letter finds the right recipient, bringing joy to those who could use a little extra right now. 

Currently, there are four community mailbox locations, where you can get a hard copy of the letter template, or drop off your finished letter for delivery. They are: 

• Gibsons IGA – 1100 Gibsons Way, Gibsons. 

• Persephone Brewing Company – 1053 Stewart Rd., Gibsons. 

• The Gumboot Restaurant – 1041 Roberts Creek Rd., Roberts Creek. 

• Sunshine Coast Community Services Society – 5638 Inlet Ave., Sechelt. 

“Social connectedness is a basic need for everyone and is as important as food and shelter,” Sunshine Coast Community Services said in a release. “A more connected Coast is a more resilient Coast.”

SCCSS program lead Anna Verspoor, who is part of the team behind the campaign, says she is excited to be able to offer letters and drawings to seniors in the community, many of whom are currently more isolated than usual and are unable to connect digitally.

“We recently delivered a child’s hand-drawn picture to a 95-year-old client. Every time we connect with her on the phone, she talks about the joy she gets from looking at a child’s drawing made especially for her. It’s remarkable,” Verspoor said.

To learn more about the campaign details, please visit www.sccss.ca to download templates and samples, and get up-to-date information on community mailboxes, safety protocols and more. 

If you know someone who would like to receive a letter, please call Sunshine Coast Community Services at 604-885-5881 or email reception@sccss.ca with Dear Coastal Neighbour in the subject line.

– Submitted