In this era of tweets and texts, receiving a handwritten letter is something special. The Cass County COA has partnered with two local elementary schools to create a Pen Pal program between 5th-grade students and local older adults.


This program has really enriched the lives of those who have participated. Multiple generations come together to share their stories with each other. Learning and wisdom are exchanged, and the children and adults look forward to their monthly letters.


The COA needs Pen Pal volunteers to participate in the 2023/2024 school year. 

All you have to do is be willing to write and receive a letter each month and create a new friendship!  There will be an “end of year” picnic in May when you finally meet your Pen Pal.


Here are some of the ways being a Pen Pal could benefit you:

1. Letter writing reduces feelings of isolation. Isolation and loneliness can have devastating effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Chronic illness is as dangerous as obesity, is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can increase the chances of an early death by 26%. Staying in touch with people who care about you can go a long way toward fighting isolation.

2. Writing is good for your brain. Writing by hand increases neural activity as you choose words and organize thoughts. The sequential movements required to write activate the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, healing, and language. It also benefits your working memory because you are recalling information, and writing something down can help you remember it.

3. It can add some joy to life. COA Pen Pal participants have found that learning about what their pen pals are doing, what makes them happy, and what they’re interested in has brought them unexpected delight. And who doesn’t enjoy the nice surprise of getting a personal letter in the mail?

4. Letter writing helps you unplug and be intentional. Getting away from the constant input of what’s on the television or devices can be a healthy mental break. Taking the time to gather thoughts and write can relax your mind. You’re also allowing yourself to focus on what’s important, what you’re grateful for, and responding to your pen pal in specific, intentional ways.

5. Pen pal programs with seniors help both participants. Building intergenerational relationships benefits young people and their older friends. Children and older students are less likely to have behavioral or substance abuse problems. Older adults have improved brain and cognitive function and are generally happier. And letter writing is one way to start building these meaningful friendships.


If you are interested in becoming a Pen Pal, please contact:

Patty Gremaux at (269) 445-8110 or







COA Staff