East Hills’ National Program Helps Seniors Grow

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Trustee Clara Pomerantz and Volunteer Zachary Gerson have expanded operations of the “Made You Smile Program” for seniors by adding Pen Pals. (Photo courtesy of the village of East Hills)

As soon as the pandemic hit, Clara Pomerantz, who serves on the Village of East Hills Board of Trustees, became highly creative. She launched a now widespread program called “Made You Smile.” It was dedicated to making seniors in nursing homes smile. Here’s how the beneficial program works. During the Coronavirus crisis seniors in nursing are isolated and prevented from seeing their loved ones. Trustee Pomerantz’s ingenious program was to collect cards, videos and letters from participating children, and send these messages along to nursing home residents. It is an effort to warm the hearts of all solitary confined seniors.

The program became an instant success. With an even greater sense of sympathy Clara Pomerantz then added a new Pen-Pal Program. East Hills resident, 15-year-old Zachary Gerson, then was appointed by Ms. Pomerantz as President of the pen-pal program. He has now devoted much of his quarantine time to running the Pen-Pal Program. By coordinating emails, spreadsheets, and deadlines, Zachery ensures that seniors are given student Pen-Pals to communicate with seniors and become their new-found friends.

Trustee Pomerantz credits Zach Gershon with running with the ball and implementing this program.

The Made You Smile program, including Pen-Pal Program, now operates nationally, with the newly rolled out pen-pal program currently operating in New York and Florida. Trustee Pomerantz said she expects to expand the program to California, Texas soon.

“It is such a rewarding experience to both younger and older generations.” Clara Pomerantz said. “They share their thoughts and diverse backgrounds. They develop friendships because we match up Pen-Pals according to similar hobbies.”

Trustee Pomerantz invites anyone interested in having their children involved or having loved ones in a nursing homes participate to contact her for more information. The Founder and Supervisor of the program can be reached at ccpomer@aol.com.

—Submitted by the Village of East Hills

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