Six Centers Earn Accreditation in September
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Six Centers Earn Accreditation in September

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October 15, 2013

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Congratulations to the following six 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.

Hamilton Township Senior Center, Hamilton, NJ

Hamilton Township has a population of 88,464; it is the 9th largest municipality in the state of New Jersey. Approximately 30% of the population is aged60 or older. The senior center is a 15,000 square foot, stand-alone facility, which was established in 2001 and is located on 7 acres of open space. There are 7,881 active participants, with an average daily attendance of 425.

The strengths of the center include:

  • The goals, objectives, and work segments are an excellent example of how to plan and carry out the work of a senior center. 
  • The Membership Brochure is an example of a document that is user-friendly and provides good information about the programs at the center.
  • The end-of-the-year report to the Township Business Administrator is very extensive.
  • Good Volunteer Handbook that is easy to read and contains the pertinent information.
  • Many of the programs are volunteer led and volunteer driven. The Bocce League and the Play group are two good examples of this.
  • There was a very extensive evaluation done that yielded a lot of information that was used to develop a report for the Township leaders. 
  • The Participant Information form includes a section to sign indicating the person can participate on their own and there also is a release for use of photo.

Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc., Kodiak Island, AK

Kodiak Island has a population of 14,041 and is the second largest island in the country located in the Gulf of Alaska. Access to Kodiak is by either a 13-hour ferry ride or a one-hour plane ride from Anchorage. The 12,000 square foot senior center is located in the downtown area in the City of Kodiak. On Kodiak Island, there are 1,564 people aged 60 and older; SCOK serves 99% of the seniors. They have an average daily attendance of 75. 

The strengths of the center include:

  • Exceptional hours of service, 56 hours/7 days weekly
  • Strong community connections, organizations seek the center out to create extensive collaborations and partnerships in the arts, with faith-based and civic organizations
  • A best practice collaboration is KATS (Kodiak Area Transit System), which involves multiple populations and is coordinated through SCOK
  • Great Volunteer Handbook
  • Excellent evaluation measures used throughout agency
  • Comprehensive emergency procedures in place, tested by real-life scenario, including memorandums of understanding in place with nearby agencies to continue services
  • Attractive and well-maintained facility, supported with extensive grant finding efforts
  • Island Cove Adult Day Center, a well-designed space with solarium, outdoor space, and rest area and model program

River House, St. Augustine, FL

River House serves St. John’s County, a 608 square mile mix of urban, rural, and suburban communities. The River House campus is located on the bay front in urban downtown St. Augustine. The building is a unique 12,200 square foot facility and is paired with the Coastal Community Center a 24,000 square foot facility that houses the Council on Aging’s congregate meal program, adult day care, MOW kitchen, and social and administrative offices. There are 2,209 unduplicated participants, with an average daily attendance of 225.

The strengths of the center include:

  • Fabulous new facility with visionary planning for sustaining revenue.
  • The staff is commendable individually for their passion and commitment and collectively for their teamwork.
  • River House/CCC runs on volunteers. They are the lifeblood, and staff does a great job of recognizing their importance and efforts.
  • There is an obvious respect for the needs, preferences, and value of each participant as evidenced by decisions like keeping the CCC available once the River House was open.
  • The use of various media for marketing is impressive.
  • Great use of evaluations (e.g. yoga program).
  • The best practice of using a mobility manager for transportation.

Rochester Senior Center, Rochester, MA

Rochester is a rural community in Southeastern, MA, with 5,000 citizens. The senior center is located near cranberry bogs and neighbors the Police Department and the town recreation fields. The center is a one-level, 5,600 square foot building opened in 2002. There are 1,071 older adults aged 60 and over in Rochester. They have an average daily attendance of 80.  

The strengths of the center include:

  • A beautiful facility that is very well maintained. There is good vision in future plans for the building.
  • The Board is very committed and has demonstrated high standards for the center in supporting the accreditation process. 
  • The breakfast program is a wonderful addition to the center and to the town. It demonstrates a wonderful capacity for innovation and collaboration.
  • Impressive market penetration with almost 80% of the target market engaged in some form.
  • The center has demonstrated its critical value to the town through the efforts during the snow emergency.
  • The center has been quite successful at providing the level of service expected in a larger community to this rural setting while maintaining the character of the community.

Stoughton Area Senior Center, Stoughton, WI

The City of Stoughton population is currently 12,817 with surrounding towns; the center serves approximately 17,000. The senior center is located along the Yahara River in downtown Stoughton. Participants use the river for canoe or pontoon rides, fishing, and outdoor parties on the lawn. The facility is a three-story freestanding building. In 2012, 1,300 older adults used services, with an average daily attendance of 110. 

The strengths of the center include:

  • The center is centrally located and flooded with natural light.
  • Community partnerships are very strong. The center collaborates with over 175 organizations.
  • Research guidelines are comprehensive.
  • The staff and volunteers are long tenured.
  • The center has a strong social service component, which includes case management and support groups. 
  • Volunteers provide staffing on Saturday mornings.
  • Evaluation practices are strong and spearheaded by volunteers.

West Windsor Senior Center, West Windsor Township, NJ

West Windsor Township has 27,165 residents, and 22% of the population is aged 55 and older. Grover’s Mill in West Windsor happens to be the site of the famous alien landing told during the Orsen Wells radio show War of the Worlds. This year, they will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the event. The one-story, 10,000 square foot facility is located in a suburban community a few miles from Princeton University. There are 3,391 active participants, with an average daily attendance of 101 participants. 

The strengths of the center include:

  • A beautiful, multi-purpose senior center. 
  • Participants are very knowledgeable about how the senior center operates. Many took part in the nine subcommittees that reviewed the accreditation materials.
  • The center is very respectful and honors the cultural diversity of the community.
  • Strong community support: Every department head and top management from the township came to support the center during the accreditation peer review.
  • The center offers a wide range of programming options and depth of programs.
  • Exceptional model as crisis reception site. The center was a focal point during Hurricane Sandy. Senior center staff, along with the support of volunteers and appropriate personnel from the township, helped the community recover. They were open for five days, 24 hours a day and offered a place for hundreds of residents to go for coffee, electricity, and community. 
  • Best practices in programming include: the Investment Club, the self-directed cookbook committee, and the commitment to providing classes to support the cultural diversity of the community.

All of the newly accredited centers were noted as having strong leaders and staff. One accreditation volunteer noted that: “It was a great eye opener to see how much is involved in running the center.”

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