WESTFIELD-Creating holiday fun for seniors was the goal of the latest Westfield Council on Aging Presents programming this month on cable Channel 15.
“We wanted our seniors to be able to escape the seriousness of what’s happening all around us,” said Tina Gorman, executive director, Westfield Council on Aging, noting she was recently brainstorming ideas with COA program director Mary Lou Niedzielski. “We’re particularly sensitive to those who cannot be with family this year because of the pandemic.”
This month’s program, “Art for All – Holiday Crafting,” will be led by Westfield Senior Center art instructor Elaine Lees. Viewers can tune in to Channel 15 on Dec. 8, 15, 22 or 29 at 2:45 p.m. to follow Lees as she demonstrates how to make a festive, handmade door decoration.
Gorman noted the therapeutic value of art – purely for the joy of creativity – can be “extremely powerful.”
“Art can be for everyone,” said Gorman. “You don’t have to be ‘good at art’ to have fun with this project.”
Lees shared a similar sentiment.
“I chose this door decoration project because it can be made from materials around the house,” said Lees, who has been serving as the senior center’s art instructor for more than 10 years. “I also liked the idea that the project could be shared with someone or could be done with a grandchild or great-grandchild.”
Since Lees was at Westfield High School, she has always felt the desire to draw and paint.
“I was nominated and won class artist,” said Lees, adding, “I wanted to study art in college but my mother said no, you will be a teacher, not a starving artist.”
Lees taught fourth and fifth grade classes in Westfield for most of her career until she retired from Franklin Avenue School in 2006.
“I had the good luck to be the art teacher for five years at Franklin Avenue School,” said Lees.
Prior to COVID-19 days, Lees has taught art classes at the Westfield Senior Center on Thursdays from 1 – 3 p.m. and looks forward to a brighter 2021 when she can once again greet her students and resume the painting and artistic creations classes that local seniors have come to enjoy.
“I try to teach my students something valuable each time I present a program,” said Lees.
For her door decoration project, participants will need a piece of colored paper or wrapping paper approximately 9” x 12,” scissors, a ruler or straight edge, tinsel, ribbon or pre-made bows, white glue or a hot glue gun. Tin foil or shiny paper are also options that participants may choose to use.
“Elaine will guide viewers with a step-by-step demonstration,” said Gorman. “Truly this is a project for all ages using supplies that most of us have in our drawers and closets.”
Gorman noted that grandparents and grandchildren can tune in to Channel 15 at the same time in different homes, each make a holiday decoration, and then send photos of the finished product to each other.
“Instantly, this becomes an intergenerational program,” said Gorman.
For persons who do not have access to Channel 15, the program can also be viewed online by visiting www.cityofwestfield.org and under “Community,” click on Community Access TV, CH 15 Live Stream.
“If we receive positive feedback about the segment, we may start a new cable series,” said Gorman