3 Newly Accredited Centers Focus on 50+
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3 Newly Accredited Centers Focus on 50+

November 12, 2013

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Congratulations to three senior centers from Tennessee and Oregon that earned National Senior Center Accreditation in October.

All three have a strong focus on engaging the 50+ population in their names. Two are from one organization.

NISC offers the only National Senior Center Accreditation Program. Accreditation provides official recognition that a senior center meets the nine standards of senior center operations.


Founded in 1956, FiftyForward has been devoted to supporting healthy aging. It is the parent organization of five nationally accredited senior centers. Two have achieved their subsequent accreditation. 

One peer reviewer assessed both centers and noted the strengths that they shared:

  • The organization rebranded its name from Senior Citizens Inc. to FiftyForward. This change was carried over to all of the senior centers, which helped to strengthen the whole organization’s commitment to its mission. 
  • FiftyForward is a very strong organization that is well connected to the community with optimal sustainability.
  • The quarterly publication Forward Focus includes helpful information, along with an overview of classes held at the centers.
  • It is very clear how important these centers are to their participants and what a positive impact they have had on their lives. Comments from participants included: "It is a 'home away from home,'" “This center has saved my life,” “I love this center!” and “The staff are like family.” 

FiftyForward College Grove, College Grove, TN

FiftyForward College Grove opened in 1986 and serves a small community of about 3,000 people. It draws most of its participants from around Williamson County. The average daily attendance is 45 participants. 

The center offers a wide variety of educational and inspirational opportunities including art instruction (oil, watercolor, stained glass, etc.), music, genealogy, writing, history, computer, and exercise classes, as well as trips and professional speakers and entertainers. They also have a 900 square foot health and wellness center available for daily use. 

The center is a former elementary school. The rooms are bright, attractive, and spacious and include an arts and crafts room, large community room with piano, pool room with cable TV, computer lab with WiFi, massage therapy room, and multi-purpose classroom. There is adequate office space for staff and volunteers, as well as a fully equipped kitchen. 

Additional strengths of the center include:

  • The relatively new director has enormous support from the membership and community. College Grove’s director grew up in the community, volunteered at the center as a senior in high school, and graduated from programming staff to become the director.
  • College Grove is fortunate to have an assigned care manager for FiftyForward Living.
  • It offers a balanced menu of opportunities for participants. There are classes to enrich the mind, express your artistic side, stay physically fit, socialize, and have access to services. 

FiftyForward Madison Station, Nashville, TN

Madison Station is one of FiftyForward’s largest and most active centers. It opened in 1996 and primarily serves senior adults aged 50+ who primarily reside in North Davidson County and Bordeaux. 

Named “station” because of its proximity to the historic railroad station behind it, the center is in an urban central city location. Many participants were friends since grade school. It serves 872 unduplicated participants per year, and its daily attendance average is 159. 

Among the most popular daily activities are working out in the completely outfitted exercise room or taking an exercise class (yoga, tai chi, low-impact aerobics, and the SilverSneakers® Fitness Program). For those who prefer to exercise by dancing, line dancing and ballroom dancing are offered. 

Special interest groups include a garden club, ladies billiards club, genealogy club, men’s club, Red Hat club, and two very special musical groups: The Madison Station Silver Notes Band and the Madison Station Golden Tones Choir.

Additional strengths of the center include:

  • Madison Station’s relatively new director has enormous support from the membership and community and has worked at the center for 12 years. 
  • The center offers a balanced menu of opportunities for participants. There are classes to enrich the mind, to express an artistic side, to stay physically fit, to socialize, and to have access to services.
  • Madison Station has a nice tracking system for statistical participant information.
  • Madison Station is very fortunate to have an assigned care manager for FiftyForward.
  • The center has a very well developed fitness and wellness program that includes a very large fitness center with areas specific for strength and cardio workouts, an on-site fitness coordinator, and over 17 fitness classes on their current schedule.

Center 50+, City of Salem Senior Center, OR

Center 50+ is located in the capital of Oregon, county seat of Marion County in the Willamette Valley. It is an hour from Portland and has a total area of close to 50 square miles. The population of Salem is 154,637, making it the third largest city in the state.

Center 50+ opened its new 30,000 square foot, two-story building in 2008. It includes a welcoming lounge with fireplace, snack bar, reception desk with three volunteer stations and open adjoining office space, a boutique, kitchen, great hall, classrooms, woodshop, respite room, lecture hall, pool room, computer room (see Tech50+), crafts room, lapidary shop, and health and fitness rooms. 

The large exercise room has 18 machines. There is a smaller room for consultation and massage therapy and a classroom for dance and exercise classes. 

Although there are 150 parking spaces, the size poses a challenge in accommodating the daily attendance of often over 700 participants (evening hours Monday through Thursday). 

The strengths of the center include:

  • Center is user friendly, attractive, and welcoming to participants. It is open 70 hours per week.
  • Staff and volunteer leadership is strong.
  • Community partnerships are varied and strong.
  • Annual Report is a comprehensive document and includes great quotes from the participants.
  • The Boomer Newspaper is an appealing publication, as is the website.
  • Volunteer commitment is exemplary in terms of numbers and hours spent at the center each week. See ACT NOW, 50+ Awesome Community Team.
  • Programming is extensive and many of the programs are run by volunteers. Programs are available for active adults as well as the very frail.
  • Social services are provided for the homebound.
  • Volunteers work diligently with the director to raise approximately 40% of the annual budget including an annual fundraiser.

The Center 50+ Accreditation process helped motivate its self-assessment committee to reestablish timelines and action plans and ensure an annual evaluation of the center’s goals. 

If you’d like to motivate your center to achieve a sound strategic plan, consider the National Senior Center Accreditation process!


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