Something fabulous happened between the Raynham and Mashpee Day Habilitation programs! Holiday greetings were exchanged, well-wishes made, and a van bringing holiday cheer made its way up and down Route 3 and over the Sagamore Bridge.
“With Covid, our programs aren’t able to get out much and experience the holiday spirit together as a community,” says Shannin Seamans, Director of Day Services at the Raynham program. “I thought, how great would it be for participants of the two programs to still experience and share that spirit back and forth?”
Shannin proposed a handmade holiday card exchange between the program participants and staff at the Day Hab in Mashpee.
“It was such a fabulous idea!” says Nancy Gailor, Director of Day Services in Mashpee. “We get to share holiday greetings and celebrate with each other in a different, yet creative and festive way!
We got to work right away. For two weeks, we were busy creating some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen,” says Nancy. With assistance from staff, some of the program participants made cards by hand-over-hand instruction, pressed thumb prints to illustrate string lights, affixed stickers, or glued snowmen, while others drew holiday images or wrote messages—whatever their skill level, participants found great joy and delight in the activity.
“Our folks… their world has been pretty small in the past year, almost two. It’s been the case for human services everywhere,” says Shannin. “Family visits and participation in community events have decreased to maintain safety. This card exchange opens our world in a sense and has been a way for those in our care to make more friends, to connect, and feel the spirit of the season.
Participants in our program have long enjoyed giving and receiving holiday cards to and from staff. But they are going to enjoy getting their very own from someone elsewhere,” continued Shannin. “It’s great to know that someone thought about you. So, it will be nice for them to get that holiday greeting and cheer that is just for them.”
“I like making friends,” says program participant Tammy. It is a sentiment shared by all in the program. Equally as exciting is receiving greetings from new friends. Jessica, another participant, waits with anticipation. “I’m excited to get my own card,” she says happily.
Shannin wants program participants to experience that special feeling of friendship not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.
“I’m hoping, this card exchange will evolve into some kind of pen pal program and expand everyone’s friendship circles,” she says. “We want our folks to have friends and to actively build those friendships. To call a friend across the bridge, be invited to birthday parties, visit each other’s residences, have dinner, and experience various outings together. The more friendships we have, the more people we have in our circle that care about us, the more love there is.”
“Shannin is the best! We’re always looking for ways to increase our community involvement and she knows how to plan the most fun and engaging events,” says Nancy. “We enjoy sharing ideas and finding ways to enhance the lives of the individuals in our programs. A pen pal program will bring our community closer. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
When Stanley, a program participant was asked what he wants the person who will receive his card to know? “That I did good," he said. Andrew is “wishing them the best holiday!”
“This has been such a wonderful collaboration,” says Shannin. “It has given us all—the individuals in the programs and the staff—someone else to celebrate. Both Nancy and I want everyone to have fun-loving and meaningful holidays. We’re all in this together.” See all of the fabulous cards and the elves here