NEW YORK — Carolers decked the halls of a senior housing building in Manhattan on Sunday morning, getting residents into the holiday spirit.
Seniors could be seen smiling wide behind their masks as they hummed and clapped along to their favorite Christmas songs.
What You Need To Know
- Nearly 100 vulnerable seniors live in Encore Community Services housing
- Many residents have experienced homelessness, and Encore provides them with mental health services and other vital resources
- Last year's Christmas caroling performance was canceled after more than 30 residents contracted COVID-19
"It keeps the city alive," said Daniel Garland, who has lived in Encore Community Services housing for 22 years.
Many residents have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Encore provides seniors with meals, mental health resources and housing in the Theater District.
From “Joy to the World” to “Jingle Bells,” every song was performed by “The Joyful Noise Carolers.” Their mission is to spread love and hope to as many elders as possible, especially during the holiday season.
All group members are volunteers who sing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the city. The performance was organized by Encore and Rachel Bennett, the founder of the Nursing Home Card Project.
Garland said he always looks forward to this time of year. "I hope to get a lot of presents," he said.
The present on top of Garland's Christmas list is one for everyone to enjoy: "Peace and love for the world," he said.
It is a gift so many are hoping for as the pandemic continues to disrupt so many longstanding traditions, including this one at Encore.
For the last 20 years, carolers have visited this building to spread holiday cheer, but last year's annual event was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
"It was hard. Very hard. Had to be shut down, but we were working," said Cheryllyn Carter, who has worked at Encore for 18 years. "Us home health aides still have to come out and do what we have to do."
Carter said it is her duty to make all of the residents feel at home during these uncertain times. "Some of them don't have family. So I spend the majority of my holidays here, make them feel welcomed, loved, make jokes," she said. "And I do everything to the best of my ability."
Love and laughter were certainly in the air at Encore, a place where comfort and community are paramount.
"They feel like family," Carter said. "In spite of working here, they are family."