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Quincy company connects seniors with soldiers

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 3, 2014 12:16 PM

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ConnectedLiving

(Above) The ConnectedLiving team on their Day of Service in Quincy, MA with donations to be sent through Operation Troop Support to soldiers overseas. (Left) During the Seniors to Soldiers event at Brookdale's Riverbay Club in Quincy, Anna Keaney learns how to loom from 10 year old Samantha Bevins of Hingham.

A Quincy company known for its focus on the senior community has turned its attention to soldiers, with a national campaign to connect WWII veterans with servicemen from current generations.

ConnectedLiving’s Seniors to Soldiers initiative ran from November through December, and will likely start up again in February after hundreds of community members participated in the event.

“[We were] trying to figure out a powerful way to link everyone together. This was a natural project,” said Sarah Hoit, the CEO of ConnectedLiving.

The program brought together hundreds of seniors from a variety of senior living communities, asking residents to send holiday cards to members of the military and share their own wartime experiences.

Using ConnectedLiving software, seniors also recorded personal video messages. Care packages were compiled with donated items, and some seniors even knit hats and scarves for troops.

By the end of December, hundreds of care packages and 1,500 letters were sent via the Danvers-based non-profit Operation Troop Support.

“It just took off. People were really excited about it. This is a group that has a lot to share with a group that has been serving…they get it on every level,” Hoit said.

The initiative is only the latest for a company that says it has an eternal mission to bring meaning back into seniors’ lives.

According to Hoit, that mantra was what started the company six years ago, when founders set out on a way to connect seniors across the digital divide.

The answer came in the form of a web-based platform. Described as a “Facebook for seniors”, the website gives seniors a streamlined way to connect to family and to connect to other seniors.

Coupled with a call center, teaching program, and even a university to further the online education experience, seniors in 30 states and over 300 senior living campuses have begun to explore outside the confines of their own rooms.

Hoit said connecting seniors, many who are World War II veterans, to soldiers was an intuitive expansion.

“The thing that’s most important to the 87-year-old is not how much money they’ve collected, it’s about making a difference themselves…purpose is one of the most important things to them,” Hoit said.

Seniors begun reaching out and were soon joined in by their families. Grandchildren even started weaving American-themed bracelets for soldiers to wear.

The program has sparked a slew of other initiatives, including participation in the Honor Flight Network, which sends senior veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit war memorials.

“The fun will continue, the connection will continue,” Hoit said. “ Seniors will tell us what [they] want to get involved in that’s impactful. So often they feel as if they’ve been abandoned and don’t have a voice or a connection. The second you give them this ability to be a part of it and have a voice … it’s transformational.”

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