Table of valentine cards. / Michele Meagher photoTable of valentine cards. / Michèle Meagher photo / MORE PHOTOS >>

Valentine's Day is not only for young lovers -- its spirit extends to us all, no matter our age or circumstance.

That encompasses those who are hungry and those who may be alone, especially during the pandemic. 

To address these needs, Michèle Meagher brought in Jan Whitted of Creative Adventures to lead 23 participants in making Valentine's Day cards for Arlington clients of Meals on Wheels.

Meagher -- coordinator of Plugged In @ The Robbins, offering citizen-involving programs for nearly a decade -- described the results of the Feb. 11 creative art-making workshop: On Friday, she "dropped off 206 Valentine's Day cards at Drake Village; 65 of the cards will go out with Arlington Meals on Wheels, and the others will go to Woburn for distribution to other programs."

Patti Dubielak, director of marketing and development at Minuteman Senior Services, in Bedford, commented: "Our Meals on Wheels consumers are some of the most frail elders in the community, many of them homebound and due to the pandemic, isolated from family and friends.

"This generous effort brings much joy to all who receive the lovely cards, and we so appreciate the time people took to make this happen. Minuteman Senior Services manages the Meals on Wheels program in 16 communities, and I believe these cards were distributed in Lexington as well as Arlington."

Beat of art goes on

Meagher wrote that this "good-news" story begins with Jan Whitted, long the owner of Artbeat, the Creative Store, in East Arlington from 1996 until last year, brought her well-known artistic skills to the virtual table in a Zoom workshop.Plug in at Robbins logo

Each attendee picked up in advance a kit assembled by Whitted with the makings for about 10 cards. Participants supplied their own glue, scissors and any other embellishments they chose, including ribbons and buttons. Attendees then dropped off their cards in a Valentine's Day box just inside the Robbins Library lobby.

In Zoom gallery view mode, Whitted walked everyone through the materials she had provided. Participants then spontaneously held up their work and asked Whitted for help.

They "engaged in desultory conversation and had a grand time," Meagher wrote. "While it would have been lovely to do this while gathered in the [library's] Community Room, we created community sitting around that virtual dining room table and felt glad that we could share that sense of community with those who are experiencing a double whammy of isolation from the pandemic and not getting out and about that much in wintry weather."

The valentine's card-making workshop was the fourth virtual art session Whitted has presented for Plugged In since the pandemic. For an earlier workshop, at Jan's suggestion, participants created "greeting card" bundles of six blank cards for older adults, and they were distributed through the Arlington Council on Aging. 

Meagher got in touch with Minuteman Senior Services directly about the Valentine's Day cards. "At Tufts Health Plan. where I work, our Foundation has organized similar card-making events for nonprofits. Minuteman Senior Services was a logical choice: I have invited representatives in years past to participate in Plugged In events."

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This news summary was published Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.