Penn State grads start subscription service to help nursing home - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Penn State grads start subscription service to help nursing home residents

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(L) Holly Masters (R) Ali Izzo (L) Holly Masters (R) Ali Izzo

Consumers can buy almost anything online these days except for human interaction. 

Now, two Penn State graduates have found a way to help families connect with their parents or grandparents who are no longer able to live at home. 

What began as just another class for Ali Izzo and Holly Masters quickly became a passion. 

As part of their clinical course for the occupational therapy classes, the duo spent a semester working in Hermitage nursing homes, connecting with senior citizens. 

As Masters and Izzo interacted with patients they found that they wanted to find a way to help battle the loneliness many residents were feeling. 

"I would try to interact with them as much as possible. I would ask them do you have family here, where do they live," said Izzo. "A lot of them would say 'oh, they live out of town' or 'they had to move out of state for a job'."

And that's when they found their purpose; the Purpose Therapy Box. 

The pair spent months developing the Purpose subscription boxes, which function much like similar subscription services. 

Each box is shipped directly to the senior and is packed full of puzzles, brain teasers, and more. 

"A lot of other box subscriptions out there are food or you know, I don't want to say knick-knacks, but things that will sit and collect dust," said Masters. "We want to really engage the patient or the subscriber and have them use things that can improve their independence and give them things to look forward to."

The tools in the box help patients with things like cognition, fine motor skills, and strengthening. 

Izzo and Masters used what they learned from the residents of nursing homes during their clinicals to develop ideas that will come in handy. 

The duo explained that the objects packed inside the Purpose Therapy Boxes are designed to keep the minds of all senior living residents sharp, but they can be especially useful for patients with diseases like Alzheimer's, dementia, or even the onset of early Parkinson's. 

In addition to the cognitive objects, the boxes also have a personal touch. 

Families who order the boxes for their parents or grandparents can include up to three family photos per box, as well as a personalized message. 

Subscribers have the option to order a one-time box or a quarterly delivery. 

Masters and Izzo also planned special boxes, such as the "Thinking of You" package, or the "Happy Birthday" box. In the future, they also plan to have holiday-themed packages. 

The pair says the past few months have been challenging. 

"We're both healthcare based, so learning about business and how to be an LLC, it's crazy," said Masters. 

The students and staff at Penn State Shenango were nothing but supportive, according to Masters and Izzo. Through the university, they received free legal help and a few nudges in the right direction. 

But ultimately, it comes down to their passion. 

"We're just excited to help people," said Masters. 

"I mean ultimately our motivation is to help our local people in nursing homes around Hermitage, but also those around the United States and maybe even the world," Izzo explained. 

And the hope that one day, they might even see their own product in use. 

"I mean, just thinking about it, in the future, my patients receiving one of these boxes," said Masters. "They appreciate the little things, they appreciate the small gestures, and I think something like that will make their whole month." 

The Purpose Therapy Boxes are available for pre-order and are expected to ship out for the first time in early August. 

Izzo and Masters say they're hoping to have about 150 subscribers by August, but say they're also looking forward to growing and expanding in the future. 

For more information on the Purpose Therapy Box, visit their website. 

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