Letters of Joy: Fargo woman rallies volunteers to write letters to people in assisted living facilities

Valley News Live at 10:00PM KVLY - VOD
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 8:33 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - As people everywhere are giving thanks, those in assisted living facilities are giving a little more this holiday, thanks to the efforts of a Fargo woman.

Cassie Wehseler is putting a young spin on an old idea.

“This is the joy that I found in 2020,” she said.

When the world came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the elderly meant staying away from them.

“I was seeing family and friends experience visiting their grandparents in nursing homes,” Wehseler said. “But it was at a distance, or through a window, or just not very often as they would like because of COVID restrictions.”

So she took it upon herself to raise their spirits, writing 125 cards to seniors across the metro.

“I think that these cards can bring a lot of positivity,” she added.

It’s something she would later come to understand first hand. Her grandpa ended up in a nursing home a year later.

“I was experiencing what others were in 2020,” Wehseler said. “That inspired me to have a goal of 300 cards.”

She couldn’t do it alone. With the help of volunteers, churches, classrooms and businesses like Gate City Bank, they were able to surpass Wehseler’s goal.

“It doesn’t matter who you are writing to, but that anyone could experience happiness, joy and even appreciation as they read these letters, that really connected with everyone,” volunteer Amanda Torok with Gate City Bank said.

Cassie knows this joy. She saw it in her grandpa when he received those letters. He passed away in July and she wanted to do more to honor him.

“I would want to tell people to hug their grandparents a little tighter this Thanksgiving and be thankful for what you have,” Wehseler said.

This year, she delivered 1,600 cards and set up 230 activities for people in more than 32 assisted living facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota.

A gesture so powerful, yet simple, even those as young as eight years old seem to understand the impact behind these letters of joy.

“I told everybody Happy Thanksgiving and I asked them some questions and told them some stuff about me,” volunteer third-grader Rya Diekmann said. “I love giving cards to people.”

Fargo/Moorhead Businesses & Groups: Gate City Bank, Scheels, Firstlink, Bell Bank, Park Co. Realtors, Your Day By Nicole, Activate Physical Therapy and Wellness, Freedom Elementary (Mrs. Salentine), SGR Elementary School (Mrs. Gustafson), Prairie Heights Church, St. Joes Faith Formation Group and Moorhead STAY Group.

Sheyenne High School National Honor Society Group (Mrs. Peterson): Britny Diekmann, Amber Gemmill, LaRae Neyens, Jessica Persson, Hanna Swenseth, Kathleen Gallais, Jayne Gobernatz, Victoria Anderson, Cheryl Thorson, Jody Pike, Alice Boeckers, Sara Bakke, Miriam Danielson and Amy Lindquist.