Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation Center in New Milford has announced the winner of its “Declutter Your Space” contests.

“The contest was created at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown to give seniors something productive to do while they were isolated at home - to provide them with a goal to work towards,” said Melissa Marici, community outreach director at Candlewood.

Newtown Senior Center member Susan Schneider was the winner.

“I liked the idea, but I knew we needed a partner to make it work, and that’s why we teamed-up with Home Depot to provide the contest prize of $150,” said David Segal, administrator of Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation said.

Judy Thomas, senior center assistant at Newtown Human Resources was the first to sign up for the senior-target program.

Then others senior centers followed from other nearby Connecticut towns such as Sherman, New Milford, Woodbury, Bridgewater and Brookfield.

To enter to win, contestants had to send-in before photos of their cluttered space by May 15 and after photos of the same space, decluttered, by June 15.

“We received dozens of entrees from many senior center members,” said Marici. “The spaces varied from pantries and garages, to attics and basements, to offices and spare bedrooms. But the final winner’s space was much more compelling. It was in essence - an entire floor.”

“The space was truly transformed from a place of chaos to a showcase in organization,” she said. “It was exactly what I had in mind when I came up with the idea for the contest.”

When asked what inspired the contest winner to enter the contest, she said, “When I saw the flyer in a health pack Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation distributed at our senior center, I knew I should tackle the project.”

“I told my daughter I’d do it and then, I just knew I had to do it, and I did it,” Schneider said.

The$150 Home Depot gift card, along with a customized frame, a plant and a bag of goodies were presented to Schneider by Thomas and Natalie Jackson, LCSW, director of human services at the Newtown Senior Center June 30.

"Working with Melissa and Candlewood to think outside of the box during this pandemic has been so rewarding. I think it is helping us make a huge difference for our seniors. Providing these programs is helping us stay connected to them during this difficult time" Judy Thomas, Senior Center Assistant, Newtown Human Resources.