Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • Learn more about the Cove Island Bridge Project, the 2022 Programs of Excellence Award Winner in the Marketing/Public Relations category.

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2022
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Cove Island Bridge Project
  • Hosting Organization: Stamford Senior Center, Connecticut
  • Stamford Population: 135,000
  • 60+ Population: 28,000
  • Senior Center Members: 1,300

About the Cove Island Bridge Project

Over 50  members of the Stamford Senior Center helped transform a dirty concrete bridge at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Connecticut, into a beautiful, uplifting walkway now known as the "Welcome Kindness Bridge." It was a gift from the Senior Center to the Stamford community.

The vision: make people smile and feel good as they crossed the bridge. By creating a seascape mural with the theme of community and kindness, the bridge now offers the thousands of people who visit the park an uplifting emotional boost. The project was supported by a micro-grant from the city as well as donations and support from local businesses (including donated paint from a local paint store and a local cleaning company that donated their services to power wash the bridge in preparation for painting).

Over the course of two weeks in July of 2022, senior center members were greeted by smiles and praise from hundreds of people who crossed the bridge and were inspired by older adults ranging in age from 62 to 92 with their sun visors on and paint brushes in hand, painting water lilies on the bridge. Strangers stopped and offered to pick up a paint brush and help. Children from a local camp also joined the effort. One day, when paint supplies ran out, a man walking over the bridge with his daughter offered to go to the paint store to pick up more paint. It truly became a community effort. At the conclusion of the project, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held with Stamford's mayor, the media, and local officials.

smiling women at table

Key takeaways from the Cove Island Bridge Project:

  • A senior center member, 92-year-old Hilda W., participated several days during the project with her cane in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, and she described this as something that her grandchildren and great grandchildren can enjoy in the years to come and know that her grandmother was part of this.
  • The project brought the entire Stamford community together as local businesses heard what was happening and wanted to support the efforts, either with a donation to cover the cost of the supplies, or helping sponsor the ice cream truck for the day of the ribbon cutting for all who came to enjoy.
  • The outcomes of the project were two-fold: beautifying a local public park, that gets tens of thousands of visitors throughout the year; and showcasing the Stamford Senior Center to the greater community who may have not heard of the center before. 

About the Stamford Senior  Center

The Stamford Senior Center serves a diverse group of adults age 60 and older from all walks of life and from various ethnic, racial and socio-economic groups. The center welcomes both Stamford residents and residents from surrounding towns to become members and enjoy programs and services.