Congratulations to Three Newly Accredited Centers
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Congratulations to Three Newly Accredited Centers

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August 6, 2013

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Congratulations to the following three senior centers that recently earned National Senior Center Accreditation.

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.

North Shore Senior Center

North Shore Senior Center is headquartered in Northfield, IL, a suburb in the Chicago metropolitan area. 

The center offers lifelong learning programs, social services, and adult day services at a main location in Northfield and has established off-site locations. It offers lifelong learning programs in Morton Grove, a suburb six miles south of the main location, and an additional social service office in Evanston, a suburb 10 miles east of the main location. 

Other social service staff works out of area hospitals, senior centers, municipal buildings, and senior housing building. 

North Shore currently has 3,663 members, and approximately 400-500 people come to the center each day. The center is funded through state and local sources (51% of revenue, primarily for social services), fundraising (27%), fees for programs and services (17%), membership dues, and other sources (5%).

Strengths noted by the peer reviewer include:

  • Main campus offers a very comprehensive and quality package of classes, activities, and trips through the Lifelong Learning department
  • The addition of the Lifelong Learning site at Morton Grove
  • Wellness Clubs in the senior housing facilities in three different languages
  • The organization serves on other agencies’ boards and committees
  • Overall community involvement with the local municipalities and chamber of commerce
  • Super Senior Day, which involves recognizing volunteers from other nonprofit agencies as well as NSSC
  • Beautiful marketing materials that all include the NSSC brand
  • Good system of evaluating existing programs and surveying current members
  • Excellent volunteer management materials
  • Vision to prepare for the future
  • Beautiful and well-designed center
  • Social media presence on YouTube and Google+

Barrington Senior Center

The town of Barrington, Bristol County, RI, is a suburban community of mostly single-family residences nine miles south of Providence. The population is 16,310, with 16% of the population over age 65. 

The center is centrally located in downtown Barrington in the Town Hall Complex, on the basement floor of the Barrington Public Library. Although the senior center is located in the basement, it is bright and cheerful. There is a community room and several smaller rooms for programming. 

Although the facility has its limitations, it reaps many benefits from being located in the library, including a state-of-the-art sound system, large movie screen, and comfortable seating in the auditorium. The library also houses a wonderful historical museum.

The primary funding source is the town. A grant from the Department of Elderly Affairs funds 15% of the total budget. Additional funding is raised through fundraising campaigns, grants, and work of the Friends of the Barrington Senior Center, a 501(c)(3) organization.

As a result of the self-assessment process, a Community Task Force has been established and is in the early stages of facility location, design, and funding. It is projected to take a minimum of five years for completion.   

The peer reviewer observed many strengths of the Barrington Senior Center, including:

  • Outstanding staff and board collaboration
  • Strong relationship with town manager and council
  • Wide variety of programming, especially strong in the creative arts genre
  • Strong community connections, specifically with health care providers, the YMCA, and town departments
  • Good evaluation practices in place
  • Emergency Response Dialer System, funded by the Friends of the Senior Center, is an exemplary program serving the needs of older adults in the community

Anacortes Senior Activity Center

The Anacortes Senior Activity Center is located in Anacortes, WA, approximately 75 miles north of Seattle and 75 miles south of Vancouver, BC. The community has a population of roughly 17,000 people and is situated on Fidalgo Island, connected to the mainland by a highway. 

Due to its proximity to cultural centers, scenic beauty, small-town rural culture, mild climate, and local hospital facilities, Anacortes has become very attractive to retirees over the past years. Unduplicated attendance is 1,430 with an average daily attendance of 147. 

Three entities are vital to the center’s financial well-being. The organization is overseen by a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation, which raises money from donations and fees, as well as bequests. The funds are managed by a board of directors. 

The facility is owned by the city of Anacortes and leased back to the foundation at a rate of $1 per year. The city covers costs related to the building, as well as making a monetary contribution to the Skagit County Senior Services budget. All other operating costs, including personnel, are covered by Skagit County. 

The peer reviewer noted these highlights about the center:

  • Exceptional community support through partnerships as evidenced by the management of the center involving the foundation, city of Anacortes, and Skagit County
  • Programing reflects a tremendous network of partners in implementing the variety of classes
  • Strong volunteer leadership through the foundation board and volunteer program; over 150 volunteers assist in the daily operations, providing opportunities for members to be involved in the operations of the center
  • Exceptional intergenerational programming component with activities structured so that children and seniors have an opportunity to interact and work on a project together over a number of weeks; many projects are displayed in the senior center allowing for others to share in the project
  • Strong program offerings with a variety of opportunities for individual, small group, and large group interaction, especially with the limited staffing
  • Programming is creative and appears to offer something for everyone
  • Strong Disaster Recovery Plan

The value of accreditation was summed up by Sally Hill, Anacortes Senior Activity Center Director: “I am completely and increasingly sold on the value of the accreditation process. I expected that it would bring our center to the next level, and it has. I can clearly see how it will help us in our continued growth.” 

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