AARP Cupid Crew members shower older adults with love during Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy of Wish of a Lifetime from AARP

Giving a rose on Valentine’s Day may seem a small act of kindness, but it can make a big impact on the recipient. Now imagine thousands of those simple gestures. Delivering love is the goal of Wish of a Lifetime from AARP’s Cupid Crew, which will fan out across the country with flowers this Valentine’s Day.

“What started with what was about 5,000 roses in the Denver metro area 10 years ago has now expanded to 100,000 roses, over 150,000 cards all over the country,” Wish of a Lifetime from AARP Vice President and Executive Director Tom Wagenlander told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “[We] can’t believe how this program has caught fire and become such a mainstay to our effort each year.”

Cupid Crew is the February campaign of Wish of a Lifetime, an AARP program that works to grant the wishes of older adults. This year, the crew will be handing out roses to residents in older adult living communities nationwide and in person at three locations: Washington, DC, on the National Mall; at Denver International Airport; and on the campus of Florida A&M University. The mission sprung out of a goal to raise awareness of older adult isolation and connect them with their community. 

“We’ve seen that isolation as a health factor is substantial,” Wagenlander said. “They’ve started to look at the health risks relative to heart disease and it’s become somewhat of an epidemic in and of itself. I also think as a society, we still take a little bit of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to how we care for and engage with older adults. So [Cupid Crew] is an opportunity to just connect individuals of all ages.”

After “spreading the love from a distance” exclusively through cards during the 2021 and 2022 campaigns due to COVID-19, Wagenlander and the Cupid Crew team are excited to return to roses in 2023. But the truth is that while they are easy on the eyes and nose, roses are only symbols of the love Cupid Crew spreads. People are the heart of the campaign. 

“The amazing part of this experience is it’s not about the rose, it’s not about the card,” Wagenlander said. “It’s really about finding a reason to connect with people who are pretty lonely and then watching that connection develop, flourish and be meaningful, not just to the older adult but the volunteer as well.”

Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Special Projects Coordinator Foster Stubbs at [email protected].