Letters for Rose – A Meaningful Way to Serve Your Community


Sierra Blaser

Letters written by Sahuaro students to be donated to local nursing homes

Sierra Blaser, Reporter

Uplifting letters from high school students have begun to fill the empty rooms of residents in assisted living facilities all around Tucson. Some students have written about their own lives and activities, some have created pieces of art to donate, and others have written lists about their top 10 song or movie recommendations. Sahuaro’s own English department has been participating in the project by having students write heartwarming letters to residents that is sure to make their day.

The letters were written for a non-profit organization called Letters for Rose. Letters for Rose is a nation-wide organization completely built by high school and college students. The founders of the non-profit, Layla Hurwitz and Annika Aristimuno, were originally volunteers at their local nursing home in Montclair, New Jersey to earn community service hours for their school’s key club. They weren’t expecting to enjoy these visits as much as they did, but slowly they began to befriend the residents. One resident in particular stood out to them, a woman with dementia named Rose. “The first time they met her, her eyes lit up with happiness,” says the official Letters for Rose website. “She started talking immediately about her childhood, life in general, and had the spunkiest personality.”

Once the pandemic hit, the two were forced to stop their visits. They knew they wanted to keep in touch with Rose and the other residents, so they began writing letters. Through this continued form of old-school communication, Letters for Rose was born. They started recruiting their friends and others in their community to help them write letters and create artwork for the seniors. Other clubs and students gained interest in the project, so the two girls  established the non-profit for anyone who wanted to join. They created a website and a Slack page to form chapters for different cities. Overtime ‘LFR’ became a nation-wide organization with a recognition from Teen Vogue and over 400 chapters around the world, including one right here in Tucson.

Sahuaro has had a small drop off box for letters in the front office since May, but there was little participation over the summer. Over this last week, Ms. Lange’s sophomore English classes have been working on an assignment to write letters to senior residents in the city. The guidelines are pretty straightforward: Greet the resident, introduce yourself, and discuss your life and hobbies while asking occasional questions. While the directions are simple, many students took it upon themselves to write uplifting messages and create original artwork as part of their letters.

“What are you interested in? I’m really into the band Lovejoy right now, they’re my absolute favorite band,” wrote sophomore Jade Christiansen. “What kind of music do you listen to? I’m writing to you because I love doing projects like this.” Anjana Gurung wrote, “Hello friend, I wrote this letter to let you know that  you’re a special person and you are loved <3. These are hard times, but keep your head up my friend.”

These touching letters are donated about once a month to surrounding nursing homes. For those who want to start or continue volunteering, you can sign up by filling out this form or scanning the QR code below. Everyone is welcome to go old-school with this new organization and write letters for our very own nursing home residents.