Valentines can bring joy throughout the year

Sharie Loik Goodman, Director FiftyForward Fresh/Meals on Wheels

Do you remember the anticipation of getting a love letter? The flutter of the heart was a special moment that made everything difficult in the world disappear. Love letters from famous people throughout history — from Beethoven to Johnny Cash and Michael Jordan — have been preserved. Why? They inspire us; they give us hope, and they remind us of how important relationships are to all of us.

I remember as a little girl in school decorating a Kleenex box to take to school so that each of my classmates could put a card in for me that expressed a fun, meaningful or joyful message.  I especially remember that from time to time I would get a note scribbled in a card that said, “I like you; do you like me? Check the box “YES” or “NO!”  For a young girl, that was the ultimate “love letter,” to know I was special, noticed, and that some handsome freckle-faced boy with a cowlick took the time to express a personal message of caring that singled me out and made me feel on top of the world.

For the last eight years, FiftyForward Fresh/Meals on Wheels has worked hard to recreate the memories of the past and bring hope for the future to our clients, many of whom are unable to get out and be active. In supporting these seniors, in the past and this year we are asking the community to make Valentine cards that will be delivered (along with their healthy meal) by volunteer drivers on Feb. 14th. Each client receives a fun decorated card holder with at least fifteen Valentines lovingly placed inside to be opened with anticipation upon arrival.

Meals on Wheels of America research indicates that one of four older individuals lives alone, and one of five feels lonely even when they have people near them. Many of the individuals we serve at FiftyForward Fresh tell us they feel invisible as they are no longer asked to participate in many of the celebrations that used to be a part of their lives.

In the past, we received heartwarming comments from recipients that demonstrated how much these greetings meant to them. A caregiver of one of our clients commented…

“Miss Elizabeth would get up every morning and go right to the table where her FiftyForward Fresh Valentine’s holder was sitting and go through each Valentine before she even ate breakfast throughout the rest of the year! She said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes that so many people cared so much to make such fun, meaningful and caring Valentine’s cards.”

By Friday, Feb. 7th, we hope to collect at least 1,200 Valentines made by individuals, social groups, and businesses who will write their first name, a hobby they enjoy, a place they have visited that is interesting, a quote, or words of encouragement inside a handmade card that will bring joy and meaning to those we serve at FiftyForward Fresh.

In looking back at your life, I challenge you to recall what was your favorite Valentine or love letter you ever received?

Mine was one penciled by my father when I was a little girl in my “autograph book.” It said, “I love you so, you know what I mean because you are so nice and sweet…Do not repeat!” My father was only on this earth for 50 years, but the impact of his love letter message, that he wrote many years ago, is still alive and doing its work of love in my heart to this day. The FiftyForward Valentine’s Love Letters campaign is something we do once a year, but you can make an impact all year in the lives of older adults when you are willing to have a conversation, to smile, to show interest, to volunteer, to donate to FiftyForward, and to take the time to be a love letter. Your kind words, deeds and actions bring dignity and positive value to everyone in our community.

(Would you like to join our life-changing effort? Drop off your “Love Letters” at: 3511 Belmont Blvd., Nashville, TN  37215 between 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please coordinate your card delivery with Sharie Loik Goodman by emailing