Four New Senior Centers Earn NISC Accreditation
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Four New Senior Centers Earn NISC Accreditation

October 15, 2012

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  • Find out how to get accredited
  • See a list of accredited centers

Congratulations to the Surrey House, Surrey Services in Berwyn, PA; Montgomery County Senior Adult Activity Center at Norristown and Ambler, PA; and the Westerville Senior Center, Westerville, OH, for earning National Senior Center Accreditation in September.

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.

Surrey House

Surrey House is located in Berwyn, PA, with a population of 3,631 in 2010. The city is considered part of the Main Line, an unofficial historical and socio-cultural region of suburban Philadelphia. The area includes a collection of affluent towns built along the old Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which ran northwest from downtown Philadelphia. 
Surrey House is the senior center program administered by Surrey Services. Started by a local individual, Surrey Services became a nonprofit in 1981 and provides care management, assistance with activities of daily living, transportation, companionship, and money management, as well as programs at Surrey House and three other senior centers. 

In December 2000, it opened a new facility that contains a fitness center, computer lab, and kitchen. It is open 43 hours per week, including Saturday.

Some of the strengths of Surrey House include:

  • Members of the Governing Board and Members Advisory Group are a wealth of information and skill and provide varied support to the organization.
  • Policy and procedures in the area of human resources and administration of the agency are well thought out and carried out in a very professional manner.
  • The program with Main Line School Night provides programming at Surrey House and helps the community learn about Surrey House.  
  • The Volunteer Handbook is a good example of a concisely written document with the important information presented in a professional manner.
  • Volunteers seem to be engaged in all aspects and levels of the organization.
  • Good use of space that poses challenges. The café has a great atmosphere, bright and colorful.
  • Café and food choices appeal to a wide audience.
  • Evaluations are extensive and varied. 
  • A strategic planning process helps the agency analyze and plan for the future.

Montgomery County Senior Adult Activity Centers

Norristown and Ambler are two nonprofit senior centers located in suburban Philadelphia and run by the Montgomery County Senior Adult Activity Centers (Montco SAAC). Montco SAAC was founded in 1965 by seven elderly women in Norristown who were concerned about the low-income frail elderly in the county. In 1999, Ambler was opened. 

Strengths found in both centers include:

  • Community collaborations are very strong.
  • Board members are talented and engaged.
  • The Board Manual is comprehensive and a model for centers.
  • The executive director is creative, talented, a strong leader, and advocates for seniors in the county. She is passionate about her work and has established a strong team.  
  • Personnel policies are comprehensive. The centers have an energetic volunteer corps.
  • The centers provide programming for a wide range of ability groups.
  • Board members are committed to working on fundraising. A lay-away plan has been established for seniors enabling them to plan ahead to participate in costly events.
  • The Policy Manual is extensive and includes a section on social media, clear expectations of members, and reasons for exclusion.

Strengths at Norristown include: 

  • The center exudes a marvelous spirit. Staff and volunteers are caring, creative, and welcoming. 
  • Members express their gratitude for having a safe and comfortable place to spend time with friends. One of the members stated: “The center is an answer to a prayer for many.”
  • Programming takes place within the center and in individual homes for seniors with varying physical and mental abilities. 
  • The Adult Day program incorporates community groups wishing to volunteer. 
  • The Center Without Walls allows seniors to call in and listen to specific programs, providing outreach to the homebound. 
  • Health and wellness programs such as Zumba and Silver Sneakers are available for the active elderly, and chair exercise programs are available for the frail. 
  • A Thrift Shop provides revenue and volunteer opportunities for seniors and serves as a community resource.

Strengths at Ambler include: 

  • Instructors are first-rate.
  • The home-delivered meals program operates efficiently. 
  • Boomer U is attracting a number of younger seniors for both activities and educational programs.
  • There is a LGBT Support Group.
  • The facility is spacious, bright, and airy. Furniture is well placed for socialization and comfortable.
  • Planning is underway for an Intergenerational Art Center on the third floor with various community leaders.

Westerville Senior Center 

The center is located in Westerville, a suburb 15 miles north of Columbus, OH. It's near Westerville’s restored “Uptown” historic district with brick sidewalks and Victorian storefronts.

The center resides in a 9,467 sq. ft. stand-alone facility operated as part of the City’s Park & Recreation Department. It is open 45-54 hours per week with seasonal evening hours and some events on weekends. It averages 157 people per day in an urban/suburban setting.
Strengths include:

  • The Parks & Recreation Department, city, and senior center have developed excellent planning documents that are comprehensive and very professional.
  • The center has an excellent relationship with its community, including partnerships with businesses, senior housing facilities, aging network organizations, and other city departments through sponsorships, in-kind services, and sharing facility space.
  • The center is next to a main thoroughfare, so it is very visible to the community, next to a fire station, close to a very popular exercise trail. 
  • There is a very welcoming environment both in appearance and with the interactions of staff, volunteers, and members.
  • A very impressive transportation service includes four buses and a very caring team of staff who go the extra mile.
  • Excellent self-directed volunteer groups lead several programs and classes, including exercise, digital photography, theater group, and computer classes.
  • An impressive and highly involved senior advisory council and senior association foundation provides partial funding to the center.
  • The center has a higher percentage of male involvement than other centers.
  • The city has a very successful tax levy system that insulates it from some of the economic downturns experienced by other cities. They have also benefitted by being more sustainable in their budget without having to cut major services and programs.
  • The center successfully improved and implementated their city’s Confidentiality Policy for paid staff and volunteers.


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