Social Butterflies Club forming bonds with senior citizens


Sneha Sash

Coppell High School senior Social Butterflies Club president Jillian Richter writes a letter to the senior citizens of Coppell at Andy Brown Park on Thursday. Letters and other ongoing projects from the club provide the elderly an outlet to avoid loneliness during this pandemic.

Varshitha Korrapolu, Staff Writer

Elderly people in the community usually have warm-hearted, comforting smiles across their faces whenever young people greet them. They portray generosity and kindness through wisdom they share with youth. 

However, COVID-19 has drastically changed the way Coppell students interact with senior citizens. 

Coppell High School senior Jillian Richter created a club at Coppell High School, the Social Butterflies Club, to form relationships with elderly people in Coppell. One of the goals of this club is to prevent senior citizens from feeling lonely during COVID-19.

Inspired by phone calls she has with her grandmother, who is a widow and experiences minimal social interaction, Richter felt the need to start a club centered on outreach and the Social Butterflies Club came to be. 

“I felt kind of helpless because I wish I could have done something to help her, even if it meant I was stuck in the house with her too,” Richter said. “I just wish I could have been there for her.” 

One of Richter’s goals for this club is to learn more about the elderly in her community. 

“[The purpose is] to make connections with senior citizens. You are really learning something from these people,” Richter said. “They have so many stories to tell. It is really important, something that we really want to focus on.” 

The Social Butterflies Club utilizes letters and a pen pal format to communicate with senior citizens, preserving traditional methods of interaction. 

“Communicating through letters is a good idea because [it] is a safe method that older people are comfortable with,” CHS senior Manjual Raj said.

According to CHS senior Hailey Wilkins, the Social Butterflies Club was a creative way to stay involved in the community despite the majority of virtual events.

“Most people are focused on how they are affected by it and not how other people are affected by it,” Wilkins said. “People in [orphanages], people in retirement homes, people who are homeless, those kinds of people are greatly affected by the pandemic. It was a really good idea to reach out to and help others who are negatively affected by the pandemic.” 

Furthermore, Wilkins emphasizes the importance of forming bonds with elderly people. 

“If [elderly people contract COVID-19], they are more susceptible to dying or their symptoms may be a lot harsher,” Wilkins said. “They have to stay inside and can’t go out. They have no one to talk to. It’s really important that we keep that in mind and that we’re there to talk to them.” 

COVID-19 has hampered elderly people physically and mentally. CHS forensic science teacher Sandy Kirkpatrick thinks that minimal social interaction can be harmful. 

“Senior citizens that are in retirement homes are not allowed to go anywhere because they are in the high risk population,” Kirkpatrick said. “When you are alone and older, [minimal social interaction] can dampen your mental health.” 

Social Butterflies Club letters to local retirement homes introduced members of the club to senior residents so they can pick a student that captures their attention or shares similar interests. 

Richter and other club members hope that they can create a positive impact in Coppell by spreading joy, making memories and sharing experiences through letters to elderly people.

Follow Varshitha (@varshitha1128) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.