Hey, You Got Mail!

Reaching out to the elderly with uplifting greeting cards

The six friends behind the Hey, You Got Mail! project are (above, from left) full-time national serviceman Triston Tan, National University of Singapore medical student Joanne Yep, Nanyang Technological University biological sciences students Jaslyn
The six friends behind the Hey, You Got Mail! project are full-time national serviceman Triston Tan (left), National University of Singapore medical student Joanne Yep (centre), Nanyang Technological University biological sciences students Jaslyn Muk (right) and Park Jiwon, NUS political science student Tan Wei Lin, and NSF Advait Deshpande. The group has sent about 1,700 cards to seniors with encouraging messages in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
The six friends behind the Hey, You Got Mail! project are (above, from left) full-time national serviceman Triston Tan, National University of Singapore medical student Joanne Yep, Nanyang Technological University biological sciences students Jaslyn
The six friends behind the Hey, You Got Mail! project are full-time national serviceman Triston Tan, National University of Singapore medical student Joanne Yep, Nanyang Technological University biological sciences students Jaslyn Muk and Park Jiwon (left), NUS political science student Tan Wei Lin (centre), and NSF Advait Deshpande (right). The group has sent about 1,700 cards to seniors with encouraging messages in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

The idea of doing something for seniors most at risk of social isolation came during the circuit breaker period when six friends - equipped with social media, Netflix and phones - got bored staying at home.

Ms Jaslyn Muk, an undergraduate, said: "We thought, 'Why not encourage people to send letters to each other and spread good vibes to endure the tough period?'

"Social isolation among seniors has always been a concern in Singapore, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact is far worse."

For example, visitors were barred from nursing homes from April to June, after Covid-19 cases were found at a nursing home.

In June, Hey, You Got Mail! was launched. For $2, members of the public can send a card made by volunteers to a loved one.

In return, the group will send a card to a senior in a nursing home or one who attends a senior activity centre to cheer them up and let them know they are not alone.

The "100 per cent" non-profit initiative chose greeting cards as seniors belong to the generation who communicated through cards and letters, it said.

The project is the brainchild of Ms Muk, Ms Joanne Yep, Mr Triston Tan, Mr Park Jiwon, Mr Advait Deshpande, all 20, and Ms Tan Wei Lin, 19.

The six are either undergraduates or serving national service.

So far, the group has sent about 1,700 cards to seniors with encouraging messages in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil. It also received some funding from the oscar@sg fund from Temasek Trust to kick-start the project.

Mr Tan, who is serving national service, said the seniors enjoyed receiving the cards.

Mr Edmund Seah, social work executive at the Ling Kwang Home For Senior Citizens, whose residents receive these cards, said: "For residents who are able to read, the content of the cards, curated in their native language, adds a personal touch.

"For residents who are unable to read, the cards were very well designed and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Many residents keep the cards by their bedside."

Readers can visit heyyougot mail.com to send a card to their loved ones

Theresa Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2020, with the headline 'Reaching out to the elderly with uplifting greeting cards'. Subscribe