Family of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID-19 victim forms group for those seeking support, answers

HOLYOKE, Mass. — As the pages of this pandemic are written in history across Massachusetts, none seem more startling than the Holyoke Soldiers’ home.

As of Monday, 77 veterans at the home have died - 67 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Susan Kenney lost her father, 78-year old Charles Lowell, an Air Force veteran.

“It’s hard, my father passed on the 15th and every day is difficult – it’s horrible to see the numbers rising and rising,” said Kenney.

Her family’s painful process through this was made even more difficult by a lack of information and answers.

“We had very poor communication in the beginning, so poor that I felt I had no other option than to drive by with a sign -- ‘Is my father alive?’ -- written on the side of my car…to get answers,” said Kenney.

So, now, Kenney and her sister have taken their own action to provide answers for others if they can.

They formed a Facebook group called “Families of Veterans at Soldiers’ Home, Holyoke – Mass.”

[Federal investigation launched into Holyoke Soldiers’ Home stricken by virus]

It has quickly gained traction and now has more than 520 members.

“It was a quick barrage of requests and memberships,” said Kenney.

It’s a safe space to fill a growing need. A place for family members to find comfort, share their stories and exchange information.

“We’re just trying to be cautious and mindful of what we are posting, of its accuracy and the effect it can have on the family members and just what it’s purpose is,” said Kenney.

There are so many limits right now on what we can all do; it is one way to at least do something to connect someone with something they may need.

“I would hope and pray that everybody has had the ability to be in touch with their loved ones and ask the questions they have to ask and have them answered,” said Kenney.

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