Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • Learn more about Senior Center Without Walls, a 2021 Programs of Excellence Award Honorable Mention in the Hybrid category.

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2021
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Senior Center Without Walls
  • Hosting Organization: Sowega Council on Aging, Georgia
  • 14-County Population 65+: 56,000
  • Council on Aging Participants: 6,000

About the Wellness Workshop Without Walls

A fully virtual senior center serving 14 counties in southwest Georgia ran this robust program that included nutritious restaurant meals and innovative activities. 

Designed to reduce social isolation, the zctivities were held via telephone, zoom, and in-person. Hybrid options were available for all evidence-based programs and educational sessions; many in-person activities (held at libraries and YMCAs, for example) were live streamed via Facebook and posted to YouTube. There was also a pilot program using Claris Companion tablets. 

This program's new model completely refashioned what a senior center is, strengthened community partnerships, and is attractive to baby boomers. 

Tripled the number of individuals served. 

Key takeaways from the Senior Center Without Walls:

  • Program was enticing to seniors looking for a healthy meal and activities in their local communities. It resolved the issue of declining participation in traditional senior centers, with participation tripling.
  • The program encouraged the development of more local partnerships and relationships.
  • The program benefits local economies by using local restaurants and other non-profits to deliver services.
  • The model is more resilient to economic and health-related issues such as workforce shortages, supply chain issues, and pandemics.
  • The program is efficient to operate, using only a few full-time administrative staff vs. the nearly 100 employees and extensive logistics required for the traditional centers.

About Sowego Council on Aging

The Sowego Council on Aging continues to operate the Senior Center Without Walls program and is a non-profit organization offering meals and transportation, connecting older adults to resources across southwest Georgia to improve their health and well-being.