Teen befriends elderly neighbor during lockdown by communicating with Post-It notes

A teen and an elderly woman are becoming fast friends during lockdown by communicating from their respective homes with Post-It notes.

Like most New York City residents, 18-year-old Lilian Kogan has stayed home to help protect others against the coronavirus. But Kogan has been curious about her neighbors, so one afternoon in April, she decided to reach out with a simple message: ‘Hi!”

Kogan spelled out the word on the window of her high-rise building using pink Post-It notes, a trend at Boston University, where she studies international relations. “I didn’t expect a response,” Kogan tells Yahoo Life. However, two days later, when she looked out the window, someone from the building across, had posted “Hi” in return.

“I was very excited and I wanted to continue speaking,” says Kogan. So she spelled out, “How are you?” with a smiley face, remembering to position the letters backward so they could be clearly read from the outside.

Kogan again received a response: “OK, and you.”

The pair continued communicating basic sentiments and at one point, Kogan saw two elderly people sitting on the terrace of the opposing apartment. Realizing they may be particularly vulnerable, Kogan wrote on a piece of paper, “Do you need anything?” then spelled out, “Food?” with Post-Its.

The couple indicated that they had enough food, but when Kogan asked if they wanted supplies and she didn’t hear back, the teen spelled out, “Want cookies?” It worked — the couple wrote, “Sure” and later their apartment number, so Kogan started baking.

Later, Kogan ventured outside wearing a mask and gloves and carrying one dozen chocolate chip cookies. She packed a note in the package that contained her phone number. It read, “I hope you are doing well during these distressing times. That is why I wanted to bake you cookies because who doesn’t love cookies.”

Kogan noted that while she didn’t add nuts (in case her neighbors were allergic), the chips had been made in a facility that produces soy. She also mentioned that she wore gloves and a mask while baking to prevent possible contamination. “Have a great weekend and I can’t wait to continue this fun!” she wrote.

The teen intended to drop off the cookies, but the doorman told her to hang on, then called 84-year-old Toni Sonet downstairs and the two met in person standing far apart.

Later, when Kogan looked out the window, she saw the word “Yum” spelled out in the window.

“I am a gregarious person and I like to have fun,” Sonet tells Yahoo Life of why she initially responded to Kogan, adding that she used orange printer paper. Sonet, who has lived in New York for 60 years, shares the apartment with her husband.

Describing Kogan as “adorable,” Sonet says the teen baked her brownies this week (no frosting, requested Sonet as, “I’m on a diet”). The two have been texting for convenience and Kogan and Sonet’s granddaughter, a Boston University graduate, have discussed a virtual food drive. Kogan likens Sonet to a “third grandmother” and once the pandemic passes, will pay her a visit.

In the meantime, Kogan has started the “See a smile, spread a smile” campaign, leaving 250 Post-It positive notes around her neighborhood.