By: Megan Roche
Lauren Larson has been consistently posting her daily struggles of being a frontline worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares her personal stories on her Facebook page about what she is seeing everyday while working in healthcare. A therapeutic recreation director at CareOne in Morristown, Larson knows how important keeping up morale is at this time.
“I thought it would be a good idea for people to see a glimmer of happiness. It’s been really stressful for everybody, for our employees and our residents. I wanted to start this as a small gesture whether it was a letter or a picture that a kid drew, something to bring happiness to our staff or our residents during this difficult time,” Larson said.
Wanting to help raise spirits, Larson began the CareOne Smiles initiative. Sharing her plea on her personal Facebook page, she is urging people to send something small to brighten a patient or employees day.
“Laughter is the best medicine, I’ve been raised on that since I was a little girl. It really makes a difference and one smile can go a long way. You helping and giving out a helping hand can really change someone’s outlook on the world and can make their day that much better for something so small,” Larson said.
Larson is on the frontlines of the pandemic, along with all her coworkers. While CareOne is a nursing home, they also provide physical and occupational therapy services as well. Through her honest Facebook posts about what it’s like on the front lines, Larson has shared her first hand account of what this time looks like for her and many others in her position.
“It’s hard because of the families that can’t come to visit. A lot of our residents don’t understand why their families can’t come to a certain extent. Our residents are lonely and our staff have really become like a second family. We’re holding their hands, praying with them, wiping their tears. We’ve become a family through this and we’ve grown attached to them,” Larson said.
Through the CareOne Smiles initiative, Larson wants everyone in the community to get involved. The project doesn’t take much time or effort, just a simple drawing or a simple note of encouragement has been going a long way for these frontline workers and CareOne residents.
“It can be something very generic. You can just write, ‘Dear Whoever’. I’ve been reaching out to schools and Girl Scout communities. Anything positive, it can be a picture, a little letter, a child’s drawing, just to bring happiness to someone who is either 95 or works in housekeeping, food service to as high up as our administrator. It doesn’t really matter, this will help anybody,” Larson said.
So far, the reaction from the residents and staff has been overwhelming. Larson could never have imagined how great the impact would be.
“We can read a letter to our residents and I can see their faces just light up. Knowing that there is a glimmer of hope and that the sun will always shine and every day we go through this is another day closer to this being over, it’s making a difference,” Larson said.
Donations and cards can be mailed to ATTN: CareOne SMILES, 151 Madison Ave, Morristown NJ, 07960.