Grace Osborne knows the most thoughtful gestures don’t have to be intricate or expensive.
That’s why, when the coronavirus pandemic caused nursing homes to close to visitors, the Scranton Preparatory School sophomore sought to ease residents’ minds and hearts with thoughtful messages. Grace, who lives in Jefferson Twp., founded the nonprofit Cards That Care, which aims to enrich the lives of the region’s hospice and nursing home patients through handwritten cards.
“I wanted them to know someone was thinking of them,” said Grace, the daughter of Maura and Tom Osborne and sister of Joe, 19. “We decided handwritten cards would be a good option. … It ended up making a pretty big impact.”
Grace, 16, had volunteered with Allied Services Hospice Center since middle school. But when COVID-19 began to ramp up in March and Gov. Tom Wolf implemented a stay-at-home order across the state, the facility closed to the public. Grace felt upset that the residents wouldn’t have anyone to interact with, and she knew she needed to come up with a way to brighten their spirits.
Armed with a pack of greeting cards, she and her brother, who also volunteered with Allied, sat down and wrote out several cards to send to residents. The siblings had continued this for a month by themselves when Grace thought maybe her friends would also like to participate. The amount of cards sent out each month continues to grow and spread to other nursing homes in the region as more volunteers from different schools get on board.
After the first batches of cards went out, Grace received great feedback from facility staff members. She also received a card from a nurse on behalf of a patient whose week was made thanks to Grace’s thoughtful gesture.
“It made me feel good to hear they loved the cards because that’s the mission (of Cards That Care),” Grace said. “We hope to enrich their lives with these handwritten cards, and we hope they can smile and know they’re not alone.”
“One (thank you card) in particular I could cry just thinking about,” her mom added. “You don’t realize what a difference something so simple can make, but she did.”
Grace had always wanted to start a nonprofit organization, her mother said, and this was the perfect opportunity.
“Without COVID, I don’t know if she would have ever stumbled upon this idea,” Maura Osborne said. “She was looking for a way to help, and she did it. Then, she said, ‘My friends would love this, too.’ … I said, ‘I think this is your nonprofit.’”
In August, Grace filed the paperwork for Cards That Care to become an official nonprofit and assumed the role of president. She also designed its logo, which features a heart made from lavender surrounding the name.
“I kept thinking of lavender because when I thought about Cards That Care, I kept imagining comfort,” Grace said, referring to the plant’s aromatherapy properties. “Then, I knew I wanted it to be in the shape of a heart to show the love that goes into this. … It’s really just a combination of everything I hope (Cards That Care) does for (others).”
Today, Cards that Care serves several nursing homes in the region, including St. Joseph’s Center, Allied Skilled Nursing, Marywood Heights, St. Mary’s Villa, Hospice of the Sacred Heart and, of course, Allied Services Hospice Center. The organization also has 23 volunteers from eight high schools. The volunteers send out several cards per month to residents, with each containing general, non-denominational messages of well wishes to let the recipients know someone is thinking of them. It also includes the student’s name, school and grade and mentions that he or is volunteers with Cards That Care.
“We’re super proud of Grace for everything,” her mom said. “From her work ethic and her drive to her compassion for others, she’s everything in one package.
Grace has big dreams for the future, with plans to go to college and pursue a career in the medical field. For Cards That Care, she hopes to expand it statewide and hopefully one day across the country. The organization’s growth depends on monetary donations, and anyone interested in donating can email email@example.com.
For Grace, it’s all about spreading the message of Cards That Care — and how even the most simple gestures can make others feel special — to as many people as she can.
“In a time where hope and compassion are so badly needed, we are making a meaningful impact one card at a time,” she said.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT