'Hearts are happier' because of New Milford youth's 'kind gesture'

NEW MILFORD — One area in which the pandemic has shone a spotlight is communication.

Keeping in touch with family and friends during these unprecedented times has been difficult, and visiting has been off-limits in many instances.

But a New Milford youth has developed a way, and provided the means by which, people can keep in touch.

Stella Pozzuto, 7, recently created letter writing kits for residents of Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation Center in their neighborhood.

She also has plans to create something for police officers, since she has three family members who are police officers, and help her 5-year-old sister, Ruby, make writing kits for the residents of Village Crest Center for Health & Rehabilitation in the coming weeks.

“My goal was to bring joy to the people stuck in nursing homes,” Stella said.

The idea was borne from a conversation with her mother, Kristan, who is an art teacher and recently took a grad course in creativity. The course got Pozzuto thinking about a passion project, something people take on in hopes of getting something positive out of it.

Pozzuto said she discussed with Stella and Ruby how activities and projects can help a community. Stella, already inspired by her peer-neighbors, the Hydes, who made and sold jewelry this summer to benefit local organizations, further felt called to help others.

“I want to do something that helps the community,” said Stella, who is a Girl Scout.

Stella made a list of 10 things she could do to help those in the community but settled on letter writing kits.

“She was just so committed to it,” Pozzuto said. “It was really nice. She picked (the idea), we went to the store and she picked out all the stuff to go into the kits.”

Stella made 25 kits. Each kit consisted of a folder she decorated with stickers, a stack of writing paper, stickers to decorate the paper, a few envelopes and two pens.

A handwritten letter in which Stella introduces herself and offers suggestions for who might enjoy a letter is also inside each kit.

“It was very nice and thoughtful of a young girl to think of all of us here,” said resident Betty Trott, who said she will write to her great-grandchildren.”

Resident Eileen Clarke said she “loves” the kits and looks “forward to writing to (her) family.”

“It was so nice of a young girl to do this,” she added.

Kathleen Horvath, recreation director at Candlewood, said a resident who lives in the center’s secure unit “absolutely loved the kit” and plans to use it to make shopping lists.

“I think it is so beautiful that Stella has thought about our residents here and wanted to make a difference in their lives,” Horvath said.

“Keeping the connection with family and friends is so important, whether it is a FaceTime call or outdoor visit or writing an old-fashioned letter,” she related. “Our hearts are happier because of Stella’s kind gesture.”

Pozzuto said she tries to keep her children involved in activities, and Stella embraces activities like this.

“She really loves to be doing something all the time,” she said. “She likes to be helpful, so this is the perfect combination, it’s something she can do and be proud of and it’s doing crafts and being organized.”

Stella already received a card of thanks from Horvath.

“It made feel nice and happy,” Stella said.

Ruby also found the project to be rewarding, according to Pozzuto, who said both her daughters may collaborate on the next project.