The Holiday Project
Who We Are & What We Do
The Holiday Project organizes visits to people in nursing homes, hospitals and other residential institutions. We give our volunteers an opportunity to contribute to others and we create an opportunity for those we serve to contribute to us. We bring the spirit of a holiday to those who would not otherwise have a celebration, enriching the experience of a holiday for everyone.
Why We Do It
Watch a video from the 1980's. It still captures the essence of what we do.
Each year, millions of people spend their holidays confined to institutions, and as our population ages, that number is increasing. Many of these people have outlived relatives and friends, or for some, those people have moved far away. Life can be a lonely experience with few opportunities to interact with others.
At the same time, many other people look for ways to make their holidays more fulfilling ... ways to return themselves to the true spirit of the season. The Holiday Project provides an opportunity that satisfies both of these needs.
Our goal is to make visits to people in institutions an integral part of America’s Holiday Experience and to bring the spirit of a holiday to people who otherwise would not have a celebration.
"I had a wonderful time on Christmas Day; I am especially grateful as I am single and do not always have holiday plans. The visit was priceless for the volunteers and those we visited. Some said that it really made their day because they hadn't seen family or anybody for a long time that cared about them enough to spend time with them."
"I just wanted to take the time to thank you for visiting our residents here at Falls Run Nursing and Rehab on Christmas day! The residents enjoyed the visits and it was very uplifting for them."
The first Holiday Project Visit occurred on Christmas Day, 1972 when eight people joined together in San Francisco to visit patients at Laguna Honda Hospital. Afterwards, as the volunteers enjoyed lunch together, they decided, the following year, they would do it again and ask others to join them.
For the next seven years, more and more people, in communities all over the United States joined in what was then called The Holiday Hospital Project. In 1980, the Board of Directors decided to register as a 501(c)(3) non-profit called The Holiday Project. Participation continued to expand. At the pinnacle of its growth, in the mid-80s, Holiday Project volunteers were organizing Visits in 36 states.
On one Christmas Day, snow fell heavily in New York and some of the Visits had to be canceled. One large psychiatric institution asked The Holiday Project volunteers if they could come on another day, as their residents had few visitors and rarely received gifts. In February of that year, the first non-December Holiday Project Visit took place, on yet another snowy day, as volunteers took the NYC subway and trudged 1/2 mile through snow, carrying large black plastic garbage bags filled with more than 1,000 gifts. Thus began the tradition of Holiday Project volunteers visiting institutional residents on holidays other than Christmas and Chanukah.
In the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, more and more community groups began organizing visiting programs on their own and the number of individuals volunteering in nursing homes and hospitals increased dramatically. The Board of Directors of The Holiday Project decided to transform it’s function from program management and oversight (including statistical counting) to a more open-ended educational organization. Although national management still supported existing Holiday Project Chapters, the focus shifted to sharing programs and procedures with anyone who wanted information.
In this, our 37th year operating as a non profit organization, The Holiday Project remains committed to ensuring that people all over the country, people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and economic levels, have the opportunity to contribute to each other and share the spirit of a holiday though our program of volunteers visiting people in institutions.
I just wanted to take the time to thank you for visiting our residents here at Falls Run nursing and Rehab on Christmas day! The residents enjoyed the visits and it was very uplifting for them!