Nonprofit honors ‘those who came before us’

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

During a year with more lows than highs, it’s nice to celebrate the good stuff. Ashley Lynch’s new nonprofit, Send Senior Citizens Love, is definitely the good stuff.

Her desire to serve her community was inspired by her grandparents, Irene and Doyle Arwood, a.k.a. Mamaw and Papaw. They were “a big part of my raising,” Ashley says, and she saw them almost every day. It was a difficult transition when they moved to a nursing home in 2017. When Ashley began visiting them, she realized that many seniors didn’t have the kind of support her grandparents had. She decided to serve needy seniors to honor them.

Ashley Lynch with a care package ready to go.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that seniors, the shut-ins and those in nursing homes, are part of the community. So, they just fall through the cracks,” she says.

In 2018, she partnered with home care service Home Instead for the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program. The effort resulted in 600 wrapped gifts being delivered to needy seniors all over town. The program has continued to grow, and last year, over 1,000 gifts were delivered.

When Covid hit, Ashley was again moved to action. She recognized that seniors were the first to isolate and were often unable to use technology to connect to the outside world. In response, she collected Happy Mail – cards, letters and drawings – that could be sent to seniors who needed a pick-me-up during quarantine. Her successful efforts resulted in a news story from WATE that caught the attention of the producers of Mike Rowe’s online show, “Returning the Favor.”

The community’s positive reception helped Ashley make the decision to create a nonprofit and devote herself full-time to the work in February. After 12 years in the security/property management field, working for Send Senior Citizens Love is a breath of fresh air, she says.

“I was made for this. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to take care of others, of those who came before us.”

She now devotes a large portion of her time to making connections in the community and planning fundraising events. Her first was “Movies at McGill” at Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza on July 24. The event, which was co-sponsored by the town of Farragut, featured “Monsters Inc.” on a huge, inflated screen. The movie was free and donations were requested for concessions. It was such a success that Ashley hopes to do it once a month through October. The next event is Aug. 28, but she hasn’t yet chosen the movie.

Her second fundraiser is the Send Senior Citizens Love Golf Tournament, scheduled for Aug. 2 at Gettysvue Golf Club. Learning the ins and outs of running a nonprofit has been challenging, but what she’s learned is that most people want to see her succeed. It’s a nice change from catching shoplifters, which was a big part of her previous job, she says.

Her Happy Mail initiative continues to grow, and she’s sent mail to facilities as far away as Australia. She plans to install a mailbox where local letters can be dropped off, but until then, mail can be sent to Send Senior Citizens Love at P.O. Box 22093, Farragut TN, 37933. The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program will also continue this year.

Her latest endeavor is Boxes of Love. This is a subscription service that sends a box of items like cozy socks, activity books and sugar-free sweets to the senior of your choice or a needy senior chosen by Ashley.

Running a nonprofit is a 24/7 job that has her phone ringing nonstop, but Ashley is just fine with it.

“I’m ready. Bring it on,” she says.

To learn more, visit here or follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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