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 "12 Days of Christmas", the 2021 Programs of Excellence Award Winner in the Marketing/Public Relations category.

  • Everyone needs in-person social connections, especially during the holidays, and 12 Days of Christmas gave Norwell, MA senior residents purpose each day. 

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2021 (see all 2021 Programs of Excellence Winners)
  • Programs of Excellence Name: 12 Days of Christmas
  • Hosting Organization: Norwell Council on Aging, Norwell, MA (Northeast)
  • Norwell Population: 11,127
  • 60+ Population: 2,762
  • Senior Center Members: 1,405

About the 12 Days of Christmas

Loneliness impacts 20 million older adults and can go hand in hand with social isolation. Yet a growing body of research shows small group programs can go a long way toward improving people's sense of social connectedness, especially around the holidays.

That's why the Norwell Council on Aging designed a grab and go event to safely engage with older residents during the holidays. Dubbed the "12 Days of Christmas", the program gave Norwell senior residents purpose each day, encouraging them to get out of their home and to connect with others, even if it was briefly.

Key Takeaways from the 12 Days of Christmas:

  • Each day, an average of 50 individuals received a surprise giveaway based loosely on the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Giveaway items were put aside daily for homebound to call in to reserve for delivery.
  • In addition to creating a sense of anticipation and excitement that was uplifting and appreciated by many, 142 different people participated in the surprise giveaway over 12 days, for a total of 613 giveaways.
  • What started out as a way to do something fun for older residents, ended up being a great mental health boost for staff and volunteers. The Norwell Senior Center felt a sense of purpose, connection, and excitement during a time when they were separated from their families.
  • Building relationships in the community is important. By doing so, the community will support you if you ask for something specific. Town leaders and volunteers of all ages offered to help with the handouts, including packaging and deliverying. The Norwell Council on Aging also worked with local cable TV and radio to create PSAs.
  • The response and gratitude was far greater than anticipated, and since the Norwell Senior Center was closed at the time, it was a great way to engage with older adults. 

About the Norwell Council on Aging

The Norwell Council on Aging's mission is to serve as a resource supporting the unique needs of Norwell’s older adults and their families. Their goal is to develop and provide programs and services promoting an independent, healthy, and active lifestyle. The Norwell Council on Aging strives to ensure that the town's older adults have the opportunity to participate in a safe, welcoming, and open environment that fosters learning, social interaction, volunteerism, and to enhance dignity and a connection to the community.