April 28th, 2020

The Mailbox Project

Mo Sister Kathleen Duffy on how her Florida community is rallying together one mailbox at a time

Two years ago, my husband and I moved and transitioned into semi-retirement. We chose a wonderful 55+ Active Adult community, The Cascades in St. Augustine, FL. We were warmly welcomed by other retirees and enjoyed the 100+ clubs and activities here. I mean, a card making group? Come on!

With the onset of COVID-19, however, all of that halted as we practiced physical distancing. The activity center suspended events, club meetings stopped, even the swimming pool was closed. We were all isolated from the social life we once knew.

Rather, we decided to get creative in our ways for staying connected and our neighbor Ricke initiated a project decorating our mailboxes to provide a glimmer of hope. Most HOA’s are pretty restrictive about these things, but they greenlit this project.  Our Event Coordinator, Leslie, provided free supplies but encouraged individual expression too. One by one, neighbors responded. Some were simple and understated and some pretty creative. But all had the same message: I am here and here to support our community.


Now when we go on our isolated walks or bike rides, we have something that brings us all together that we can tangibly see. The human spirit has hope. United, we can not only get through this, we can thrive through this.

There have been many great initiatives that have followed: Tere sews masks and offers them to residents in a basket on her front porch. Bob puts extra herbs in a cooler on his driveway to share. Linda organized a “physically distancing” block party. Lily encouraged people to turn their front porch lights on for the entire Easter/Passover weekend.

In this neighborhood, physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. In this neighborhood, this time of uncertainty, we can still pull together as one and show human love and support. Even if it is just one mailbox at a time.

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