Isabella D’Ambro knows the power of a hand-written note.

“I realize just how much the little things matter in life. So a simple card, a simple drawing ... that’s been a lot of the way that I’ve been able to communicate with my friends other than just using my cell phone,” said D’Ambro.

What You Need To Know

  • Isabella D’Ambro is a Waterford-Halfmoon High School senior who started the local chapter of Letters for Rose, after experiencing the hardship of isolation

  • She has an autoimmune disease, making the need for social distancing that much greater

  • Letters for Rose collects and distributes written messages and artwork to elderly people in nursing homes

The 17-year-old Waterford-Halfmoon High School senior has mixed connective tissue autoimmune disease, meaning she’s had to take isolation during the pandemic seriously.

“It has been really mentally terrifying as far as COVID, because if I were to contract COVID, it would make it much more severe, and the rest of my family also suffers from autoimmune disease and heart disease,” said D’Ambro.

The loneliness she’s suffered has been a catalyst to give back.

Isabella started a local chapter of “Letters for Rose” — an international organization that distributes personalized letters and artwork to people living in nursing homes.

Isabella has endured a number of challenges in her young life. She’s planning to study biology in college — a passion sparked by being diagnosed with a genetic disorder.

“It really has empowered me to do good and to fight through anything, even if it seems like it’s not going to get better,” said D’Ambro.

With each piece of artwork drawn or letter written, Isabella finds solace in comforting others.

“Letters for Rose has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this entire pandemic, because obviously, you don’t want people struggling and everything,” D’Ambro said, “but when presented with this kind of situation, it is such a relief that I am able to make some kind of difference in their lives as far as reducing the loneliness and just brightening their day, because that is so important for me.”

If you’d like to participate in Letters for Rose, you can find drop off locations at the Waterford Public Library, Sugarloaf Pond Park, and Waterford-Halfmoon schools.