Living Columns & Blogs

Pen pal tradition continues in Centre County

For many of us, pen pals were a staple part of our childhood. Schools, churches and scout groups regularly matched pen pals with overseas pen pals, promoting cultural exchange and helping with language practice. Written notes detailing favorite hobbies and pets’ names were sent back and forth. And while most correspondences fizzled out after the first couple of letters, some continued for many years, some even a lifetime.

It would be easy to assume that email and social media has ended the traditional pen pal. However, it is continuing here in Centre County with the Retired & Senior Volunteer Pen Pal Program.

The RSVP Pen Pal program began in 2003 and connects adults 18 years of age and older with students at Bald Eagle Area Elementary schools. The program reaches 800 children every year.

A volunteer named Bob embarked on writing to students in 2003 when the Pen Pal Program started. He saw his first pal graduate a few years ago. Bob has mentored and written to 14 student pals over the past 14 years. Throughout this time Bob and the students have met face-to-face at the end of the school year at a meet and greet. They shared laughs, drawings, snacks and projects.

Another an RSVP volunteer, Wanda, has been a pen pal for four years. “Unfortunately in 2017, letter writing is in jeopardy of becoming a lost art,” she said. “The RSVP Pen Pal Program helps keep that skill alive.”

Wouldn’t you like to be part of this letter writing program by writing letters to students?

To get started, contact the RSVP staff at 355-6816, or email Brenda and Maryanne at for more information.

Let’s keep writing alive one letter at a time. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it has a lot of meaning.

Brenda Reeve is the RSVP coordinator.