One evening in April, 37-year-old Marleen Brooks came home to a hand-written letter from an elderly neighbor. The moment she read the letter, her life changed.
The letter was short but from the heart.
It read: “Mrs ? Would you consider to become my friend. I’m 90 years old–live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please–I pray for some one. -Wanda Mills”
Brooks, a 37-year-old property manager who lives in Park Hills, Missouri teared up as she read through the hand-written note.
“Two sentences in and I couldn’t stop bawling my eyes out,” she said in a telephone interview. “That’s when my life changed.”
The elderly lady who wrote the letter had left her address on the note – it turned out she lived just across the road and two houses down.
The next day, as soon as she finished work, Brooks decided to go to Wanda Mill’s home.
“She was surprised when I went over there,” she said. She brought Mill some cupcakes.
She now visits three or four times a week with her kids and her husband. Brooks also set up a Facebook page called Pen Pals for Seniors that’s mission is to end isolation and loneliness.
According to a study done by the University of California in San Francisco, 18 percent of seniors live alone and 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis.
“I didn’t know she lived there. It was very eye-opening,” Brooks said. “I’ve seen her ever since as much as I can.”
She now dedicates much of her spare time to advocating for seniors.
“I feel like I’ve found my purpose in life,” she said.
The letter brought back memories of her own grandma, who died in a hospice in 2013. Brooks said she had blocked it out, but the memories came back into her head as she read the letter.
“She reminds me of my grandma,” she said.
Brooks said that nowadays you don’t know your neighbors.
“It’s heart-breaking, especially as we can learn a lot from them [the elderly],” she said.
As for 90-year-old Hills, she felt like someone from above was looking after.
“Somebody sent her,” Hills said, speaking of Brooks to CBS News. “God sent her.”
Hills and Brooks are in the top right image below.