7 senior centers achieve National Accreditation in May 2018

Congratulations to the seven senior centers that achieved National Senior Center Accreditation in May 2018. Our newly accredited centers include four from Hillsborough County, FL; Brandon Senior Center, Oaks at Riverview Senior Center, Town and Country Senior Center and Wimauma Senior Center; the E.L Roberson Center, Tarboro, NC; the Gretna Senior and Wellness Center, Gretna, LA; and the Hoover Senior Center, Hoover, AL.

 Gretna Senior and Wellness Center

The Gretna Senior and Wellness Center is found in Gretna, Louisiana, the second-largest city and parish seat of Jefferson Parish. Gretna lies on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just east and across the river from uptown New Orleans. The population is 17,845. Gretna is approximately 4 square miles. 24 % of the population is over age 55. The Gretna Senior Center has a membership of 306 members with approximately 45 attending daily.

The Gretna Senior and Wellness Center was opened in September 2014 by the Jefferson Council on Aging, the City of Gretna and People’s Health. The very nature of the structure of Gretna Senior Center lends to collaboration, therefore the local organizations that Gretna partners with is strong. These include:

  • The YMCA provides exercise programs daily. Programs include Zumba, Cardio Dance, Garden Walks, Silver Circuit, Beanbag Baseball, Yoga, Pickleball, Line Dancing, Senior Fit and Fun and more.
  • The City of Gretna provides for a Master Gardener of the gardens, which is an elaborate area that has a walking path, fruit trees (mango, pineapple, peach, pear, etc.), grape vines, vegetables, butterfly garden, etc.
  • Louisiana State University places nursing students in clinicals for blood pressure and other testing, as well as educational information.
  • Valley Services delivers the homebound and congregate meals to members of the Center. This service is also a part of the emergency preparedness plan for the Center and members delivering shelf staples in the event of disaster.
  • Loyola University School of Music and Fine Arts places Music Therapy students under the direction of People’s Health employed Music Therapist.
  • There is a pro bono attorney for members.

In addition to great collaborations, the peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the senior center:

  • The Gretna Senior and Wellness Center has a 24-passenger trolley that will pick up members at their home, bring them to the Center and deliver them back to their home after programming. This is provided free of charge by the Jefferson Council on Aging.
  • The Gretna Senior and Wellness Center community garden is so special. It was not just beautiful and serene in the structure and ambiance with butterfly garden and walking path, but it also offers the nutritional benefits of organic fruits and vegetables.
  • The collaboration between Jefferson Council on Aging, People’s Health and the City of Gretna is impressive. The community has come together for the betterment of the people.

The Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services

The Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services, Florida, operates under the auspices of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and is the Lead Agency for administering an array of state, federal and locally funded programs serving seniors. The organization operates six senior centers in the greater Tampa area. The following four centers received national accreditation status:

The Brandon Senior Center

The Brandon Senior Center .is located in Brandon, Florida, a suburb of the city of Tampa The Brandon center was established in 2001. The 7000-square foot free standing facility is found off a major highway, but tucked away in serene Davis Park which includes sporting fields and walking trails. The total population of Brandon is 103,483 which has been growing steadily over the last 20 years. The center daily attendance varies based on activities offered, but averages 75 participants daily.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths:

  • A very experienced, dedicated, energetic and flexible bilingual staff with good ideas for programming and collaborations.
  • An involved Advisory Board who are committed to the mission of the center.
  • A diverse participant population that reflects the community the center serves and bilingual programming.
  • A beautiful building that is cared for in a wonderful location.
  • An active volunteer program and strong staff commitment to volunteers.
  • A good balance of free, low cost and fee-for-service programming.
  • Wellness focused programming and a small fitness space with equipment.
  • Extensive community connections and collaborations. It is apparent that a lot effort has been placed by the staff to look for every opportunity to partner to bring new and improved services.
  • Amazing collaborative programs with schools, colleges and universities including the internships with pharmacy students, expressive art students and boys and girls clubs.

The Oaks at Riverview Senior Center

The Oaks at Riverview Senior Center is a part of Tampa FL metropolitan area, in the urban area referred to as Sulphur Springs. Tampa consists of many small towns that have grown together within the Tampa area. Sulphur Springs has a population of 5,727. Its proximity to Tampa’s downtown business area has allowed this urban neighborhood to reap the benefits of city life. The 7,000-square foot senior center has inside and outside spaces for activities.

Due to the central location, the center draws from other communities in the metropolitan area. The center was made possible as a result of a partnership with the County and the Tampa Housing Authority. Both a senior center and a community center were built and opened in August 2009. The facilities are located across the street from each other surrounding by some of the housing authority residential properties (76 senior apartments and 174 affordable rental units). The community center focuses on youth programs. There is a city park with a playground, basketball courts and a hockey rink located in the same area.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths

  • The center has exceptionally talented and experienced staff. The Peer Reviewer observed wonderful, respectful, and authentic interaction among staff and members.
  • Extensive community collaborations bring a variety of programming and services into the center.
  • The center membership is very diverse and maintains a very welcoming and warm vibe. Bilingual programming reflects the membership and enhances the center offerings. The positive blend of cultures is apparent and impressive.
  • The building is pleasant and in wonderful condition providing good spaces for activities. The proximity of the park and community center extends the possibilities of programming and collaborations.
  • Being a part of a larger organization provides a good, supportive infrastructure with all the appropriate policies and systems in place.
  • Wonderful intergenerational activities are in place and benefit all generations involved.

Town and Country Senior Center

Town and Country Senior Center is located 5 miles northwest of Tampa. According to the census, 86,638 people resided in this community. The center is co-located with a library and a Head Start program in a facility opened in late 2008. It includes a large outdoor area, walking trail, gazebo, garden area and patio. The building is 10,150 feet with several different size rooms for various activities

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths:

  • The center has exceptionally talented and experienced staff. The Peer Reviewer observed wonderful, respectful, and authentic interaction among staff and center members and volunteers.
  • Extensive community collaborations bring a variety of programming and services into the center is a strength.
  • The center membership is very diverse and maintains a very welcoming and warm vibe. Bilingual programming reflects the membership and enhances the center offerings. The positive blend of cultures is apparent and impressive.
  • The building is pleasant and in wonderful condition providing good for activities. The proximity of the park, walking trail and outdoor areas extends the possibilities of programming and collaborations as well as the co-location with the county public library and the preschool program.
  • Being a part of a larger organization provides a good, supportive infrastructure with all the appropriate policies and systems in place.
  • Wonderful intergenerational activities are in place and benefit all generations involved.
  • The self-directed team of center members that conducted the 2015 survey and subsequent research, analysis and reporting in 2016 is impressive and should be continued and replicated in other centers where possible.
  • The monthly round tables are a wonderful best practice encouraging regular, transparent conversations and discussions with members and volunteers. Open communication is important in a senior center as it is a “community”.

The Wimauma Senior Center

The Wimauma Senior Center is part of a county operated municipal Department of Aging Services organization which operates six senior centers in the greater Tampa area. Wimauma, Florida, is a rural town that is part of Hillsborough County with a population of 6,373. The center is less than 5000 square foot of program space and includes two free standing facilities off a major highway with a large outdoor area for programs. The center daily attendance varies based on activities offered, but averages 28 participants daily and serves approximately 130 seniors annually.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths:

  • A very dedicated, energetic and flexible bilingual staff with good ideas for programming and collaborations.
  • Self-directed leadership development and program planning by the advisory committee and encouraged by the coordinator.
  • A diverse participant population that reflects the community the center serves and bilingual programming. A respect and celebration of individuals and the blend of cultures to make an inclusive, welcoming community feeling at the center.
  • Extensive community connections and collaborations. It is apparent that a lot effort has been placed by the senior center coordinator to look for every opportunity to partner to bring new and improved services.
  • Wonderful collaborative programs with schools and universities including pharmacy students, art students and Hispanic Center youth programs.
  • Amazing intergenerational gardening program that is a collaborative effort between the Senior Center and the Hispanic Center’s program and funded by a grant from a non-profit organization.
  • Wellness focused programming. The ninety-day health care challenge had full participation.

Hoover Senior Center

The Hoover Senior Center is located in the City of Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. The Center Is a service provided by the Park and Recreation division of the city. The 8,000-square foot center was built in 2007 and is centrally located. It stands on a hill overlooking the Hoover Public Library and City Hall. With the population of Hoover at 85,000 and the 50+ population at 27%, a well-run, well-staffed senior center is a high priority for the Mayor and City Council. The Senior Center’s efforts at accreditation make it the first department in the city’s government to aim for this level of excellence.

The center is available to those 55 and older. It has approximately 1,500 members and an average daily attendance of 126. The center offers over 40 classes, programs and activities weekly. Events include movie matinees, games show, dances, craft sales, cooking demonstrations, birthday celebrations and other events. Workshops include health screenings, lunch and learns, educational speakers and brain fit activities.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the senior center:

  • A very dedicated and well-trained staff.
  • A very supportive Mayor and City Council that recognizes the value of the Senior Center and provides funding at an appropriate level to insure the Center staff can focus on its programs and members.
  • Location! Location! Location! In a beautiful building.
  • The Hoover Express (A Model Program)– a volunteer transportation service that is staffed by a cadre of volunteers who take members to medical appointments, shopping and errands.
  • A membership that has recruited some very sophisticated volunteers who are capable and willing to take on administrative roles.
  • They achieved their goal to be the first Nationally Accredited Senior Center in Alabama!

E.L. Roberson Senior Center

The E.L. Roberson Senior Center is located in Tarboro, Edgecombe County, in east central North Carolina. Tarboro is an historic town with a population of about 11,000 people, almost evenly divided between Caucasian and African American residents. The Roberson Center, opened in 1977, is one of three community centers operated by the Tarboro Parks and Recreation Department, but the only one solely dedicated to programs and services to participants age 50 and over.

The center is operated and largely funded by the town of Tarboro. Average daily attendance is about 70 persons. Center size approaches 10,000 SF. There is no center membership fee for Tarboro residents; non-residents would be assessed a participation fee.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the senior center:

  • a vibrant, friendly center with a strong varied program that includes evening programs two nights per week
  • the impressive way that participation mirrored the racial demographics of the town;
  • a strong committed volunteer base;
  • the strong financial and infrastructure support provided by the town;
  • the variety and commitment of community partners;
  • a strong, committed staff; including an enthusiastic new director;
  • an attractive, and well-maintained facility with outdoors areas that can augment programming opportunities. Outdoor space offering additional recreational opportunities (walking trail, shuffleboard courts, greenhouse, etc.) is a major plus; placement of picnic tables and outdoor lounge chairs on the patio encourages use in good weather.

Whether you are from a small community or a county wide multiple site senior center organization consider national accreditation and the self-assessment process to highlight all the positive aspects of your senior center(s). Learn how the National Senior Center Standards and self-assessment process can help you achieve excellence at your center.