3 senior centers achieve National Accreditation in April 2017

Congratulations to the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, OR, the Robert Munson Senior Center, NM, and the Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc., OH, for achieving National Senior Center Accreditation on April 27, 2017.

Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc.

The Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc. (WCCOA) is a self-incorporated non-profit organization (which is tax supported) committed to providing services that help elderly people in Wood County maintain their independence in their own homes for as long as possible.   Located in a very rural and agricultural county, it serves over 1,500 people across 618 square miles with nutrition, transportation, programming and social services.

At the Wood County Senior Center the average daily attendance is 138. The massive stone building, a historic post office, is centrally located in Bowling Green, Ohio, and has been remodeled many times over its 102 year lifetime. It is home to the senior center and to the core of the WCCOA staff.

Extensive program and service offerings are available 51 hours weekly, 1 Saturday monthly and alternate Sundays, and they are developed in conjunction with a Board Program Planning and Evaluation Committee.  A Community Needs Assessment seeks biannual information of participant interests and their recommendations for programs.

The Peer Reviewer observed many strengths of the Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc.  These included:

  • The development of a Strategic Plan and Review, guided by an “appreciative inquiry” method, has set the agency on an excellent course for future development.
  • Numerous community partnerships; 150 identified with many other joint collaborators and cooperative planning initiatives. This senior center is sought out as an important partner in their community.
  • Strategic effort to improve the effectiveness of the Board and its function. Reducing the number of members has produced excellent leadership from the existing members, committee members and the new Advisory Council.
  • Offering consistency and quality programs, not only at the Wood County Senior Center, but in satellite areas, by identifying and monitoring standards for program operation.
  • Excellent utilization of multiple techniques for evaluation and participant feedback, e.g. focus groups, surveys, interviews, etc.

Robert Munson Senior Center

The Robert Munson Senior Center (also known as the Munson Center) is located in the heart of the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The Munson Center was the first senior center in the state of New Mexico to receive national accreditation.  The center offers recreational activities, games, educational programming, lifelong learning classes, fitness program, special events, volunteer opportunities, support groups, arts and crafts. In addition, the center provides information, referral and assistance services, health promotion, comprehensive case management, respite care, senior nutrition (including congregate and home delivered meals), homemaker services, caregiver support and chore services. The center serves an average of 600 per day.

The Peer Reviewer observed many strengths of the Munson Center.  These included:

  • Very caring staff that work together well and love working with their senior population by putting their needs first.
  • Even though the Munson Center is approaching its 40th anniversary in the very same footprint when it first opened in 1977, it has been well maintained and remains very warm and inviting.
  • The staff strives for improvement in the community by making it more sustainable with green initiatives like solar power, becoming a community shelter with a newly added backup generator and exploring the purchase of adjoining property for a new wellness center.
  • Their primary goal of addressing hunger in their community (for all ages, but especially seniors) is to be commended. They have several examples of recent creative initiatives that showcase their commitment including providing pet food & veterinary services for MOW clients, food drives & distribution coordinated with other local non-profits and their community garden project also distributes fresh produce.
  • Very strong support from the city both financially and inter-departmental relationships which also has extensive and comprehensive policies & procedures for personnel as well as organization operations.
  • Impressive volunteer program with great oversight, volunteer manual and several programs utilizing self-directed teams. The City’s Volunteer Network office is housed in the Munson Center and recruits, trains and assigns adult volunteers throughout the city with a focus on providing them for Senior Programs operations.
  • Excellent community partnerships with other non-profits, city departments, county agencies, aging network and social service organizations. Recently the Fire Department realized that most of their 911 calls involved seniors so they have assigned one of their staff to work directly with the Senior Programs section to coordinate their efforts in helping seniors’ access resources.

Lake Oswego Adult Community Center

The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, a division of the City of Lake Oswego’s Department of Parks and Recreation, is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization located in the First Addition Neighborhood in Lake Oswego. It is a multipurpose facility offering recreation, education and social services programs for adults. Established in 1970, it was the first senior center in Clackamas County and is now the third senior center to be awarded National Accreditation. The population is 38,469. The center has over 1,700 active users with an email list of more than 4,000. The average daily attendance is 150.,

One item the peer reviewer noted was the wonderful use of language to describe programs and activities at the Center.  The three values of programming are: Stewardship (caring for people and the environment), Inspiring connectivity (building community), and creative engagement (enriching lives).

The Peer Reviewer observed many strengths of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center. These included:

  • The strategic plan process was multi-leveled and involved many good shareholders.  It created three actionable goals and the update log is a detailed and specific document to track accomplishments.
  • The Accreditation Committee made a specific effort to continue to meet over the 5 years between peer reviews.  The “A Team” was continually reviewing and updating items to meet center excellence.
  • The Cost Recovery model is of note.  It removed the emotional factors out of evaluating programs and based decisions on cost effectiveness and participant numbers.
  • A promising practice of using a “Fitness Intensity Guide” for physical fitness programs.
  • Overall, the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center is very visionary, forward focused and guided by premiere senior services, including, but not limited to:
    • The Aging Mastery Program
    • Facility enhancement designed by Life Span Designs
    • Evidence Based Programs
    • Extensive Community partnerships

The on-site peer review report often highlights individual encounters and gives a singular perspective of how important the senior center is in the community.  At the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center a very compelling story of how one individual found her purpose while attending an Aging Mastery Program (AMP) was told:

“Esther moved to Lake Oswego from CA to help babysit her young grandchildren.  Within a few years she was no longer needed as a babysitter and she had no other connections in the area.  She started to wonder, “Why am I still alive?” and contemplated suicide.  She was lucky and she found the AMP program and along with it a friend Nancy.  The session on volunteering saved her life.  She realized there was plenty for her to do and there was a place where she belonged.  She now has the half dozen volunteer jobs…including AMP trainer for the volunteering class, and is an active participant at the center.”

Highlight the difference your senior center makes to individuals and to the community. Show your strength through the NISC National Senior Center Accreditation process.    Visit www.ncoa.org/national-institute-of-senior-centers/standards-accreditation to learn more.