MANSFIELD, Ohio — Brooke Young has made a habit of mailing letters to individuals she’s never met in person.
“I would say my favorite part is knowing that we did something collectively as a whole — that we were able to bring people together during the isolation of this time,” said Young.
She’s talking about Pandemic Pals —the multigeneration pen pal program she and the rest of the Miss Ohio Class of 2020 helped create.
“I began reaching out back and forth to facilities over and over until I finally came to seven facilities over two counties and 84 unique pen pals.”
Facilitating a project like this keeps her plenty busy, especially on top of her college coursework. But, she, too writes letters back and forth.
“Here, I have a letter from my pen pal, Mike, and we've been corresponding with one another — just learning. We have a shared passion for dogs and animals.”
It’s that passion for animals that inspired Brooke’s work with the elderly. Before getting her new dog, Murray, she trained another therapy dog and donated him to a nursing home in Mansfield. Her goal is to do the same with Murray, who has a knack for spreading joy. Just like Brooke hopes her pen pal program does.
“I want all people that were involved in this — all 84 sets the seniors and the young women — to feel like they are forging a connection as if they’re able to share and that they learned from someone else’s story.”