Kirkwood Pen Pals!

By Lauren Sanderlin | Publish Date May 06, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, and healthcare organizations were required to place restrictions on social interactions and activities within retirement communities, our leadership team began brainstorming ways to keep our residents active and engaged, while ensuring their health and safety remains first priority.

One idea that has been successful is our Pen Pal program. Children from local elementary schools have been encouraged to mail letters to “Pen Pal” at Kirkwood. Many residents have received letters and are writing back and forth with sweet kids from around Birmingham, who are also in quarantine. This has been such a positive program that everyone has loved. Our residents look forward to receiving and sending letters to a local youth, and it brings a bright glimmer of hope and connection in such a hard and uncertain time in our world. Our staff have really proven their creativity and care for our community as they innovate new ways to spread love and joy to each resident and family. We realize that we have so many things to be thankful for that are often taken for granted, and one of these is the human connection. 


The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

My only regret is that I didn’t move here sooner with my late husband. We would have loved living here together. It would have been perfect for us to travel without the responsibilities of a home.

Nell Mehaffey Current Resident

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

We love that Kirkwood isn’t only church affiliated, but faith is a very prominent, important part of the community. To us, there just couldn’t be a better place.

Bob Tate Current Resident

If you asked me, I would say it gets better every year!

Robbie Sevier Former Resident of 37 Years

We’re a family. We really are a family.

Bet Kesmodel Current Resident