Council on Aging Programs in Massachusetts Recognized by NCOA

May 29, 2024

Every year through its National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC), the National Council on Aging (NCOA) honors outstanding efforts made by senior centers across the nation to offer innovative, creative, and impactful programs for older adults. Each program is proof of the important work that happens at senior centers. And these programs serve as models for senior center staff across the country to implement in their communities.

The following programs in Massachusetts were recognized by NCOA:

  • “Talk of the Town” – Bernardston Senior Center (Honorable Mention, Marketing/Public Relations)

The Bernardston Senior Center and Council on Aging became the “Talk of the Town” through a digital marketing campaign to inform the community about the Council on Aging and the robust programming and services offered.

Greatly expanding the marketing exposure of the Bernardston Senior Center and Council on Aging enabled them to recruit more older adults, promote an all-day conference on offerings, and expand  programs in the LGBTQ+ and Hispanic communities. Using a T.O.M.A (Top of the Mind) approach to digital marketing, the campaign’s strategy used retargeting, addressable geofencing, and addressable audience curation (targeted messages to users and devices at the household level), among other tactics, to reach the targeted audience.

The marketing plan educated consumers in the community with Council on Aging messaging and promotions through targeting and delivery on any website and screen. Repeated digital exposure has been proven to provide results. Through retargeting, consumers can be followed with additional marketing messages.

This program reached older adults who were unaware of the senior center’s programs and family members who may be looking for resources, support, and programming. Tracking in My Senior Center, found a 30% increase in members in six months! The digital marketing dashboard provided insight as to who was clicking on ads, where they viewed ads, and the location people were in clicking on ads. Each month found over 100,000 ad views and the campaign performed higher than the national rate on ad clicks. There was a noticeable increase in traffic on the senior center’s Facebook page, website, and Google.

Key takeaways from Talk of the Town:

  • Digital marketing can be an effective way to increase senior center participation.
  • Targeting ads to specific events like an open house or Spanish movie night can be very effective in broadening a senior center’s audience.
  • Repeated digital exposure yields results.


  • “Stories from the View Podcast” – East Longmeadow Council on Aging (Winner, Technology, Virtual and Hybrid Programming)

The “Stories from the View” Podcast is produced weekly by Pleasant View Senior Center volunteers. The podcast focuses on collecting the stories of older adult residents of East Longmeadow to preserve history, to embrace the stories of older adults, and to create connections in the community. The volunteers produce the show in house and run all of the technology from a mobile podcast studio (conference room).

This program is innovative in that it is completely run by older adult volunteer members of the senior center. Volunteers set up, produce, record, and recruit guests for the weekly podcast. The program is also innovative in its concept of “stories.” The focus is to provide a venue for older East Longmeadow residents to share meaningful stories, whether a guest comes in with a written narrative, or the stories are revealed in a conversational way. Recording the stories shows that we value people’s stories and creates connection. The podcast “studio” is also be used to train older adults on the equipment and technology to create their own podcasts or recordings.

The podcast crew has recorded 77 podcasts, with a total of nearly 6,000 listens. The crew has learned new skills, including technology skills, sound engineering skills, and even interviewing and recruiting skills. The Town has learned more about its residents, residents have had a venue to share their stories, and we have reached an audience that we may not have otherwise.

The new Deputy Town Manger even keeps the link to the podcast on her email signature as a method of introducing herself.

Key takeaways from Stories from the View:

  • Technology can enable a senior center to reach a larger audience.
  • Collaborating with the local cable access channel, ELCAT, and the channel’s student intern, gives technical assistance support and education.
  • The ongoing podcast expanded recently to include two live intergenerational broadcasts, where local students asked older adult panelists questions about growing up, and the audience was able to participate.