Congratulations to the Groton Senior Center, Connecticut and four centers from Tennessee; FiftyForward College Grove, FiftyForward Madison Station, Kingsport Senior Center and KSC at Lynn View who achieved National Senior Center Accreditation in December 2019.

FiftyForward Centers, Tennessee

FiftyForward is the leading resource for adults 50 + in Middle Tennessee.  FiftyForward operates seven lifelong learning centers in Davidson and Williamson counties for active adults age 50 and older.  Committed staff, volunteers and partners form a powerful leadership team supporting members, their families and the community.

FiftyForward centers offer more than 100 instructional day and evening classes and activities for their members’ personal growth, health, wellness, and community involvement. Some classes are taught at all centers; others are unique to a specific center.

FiftyForward College Grove

Long recognized nationally as a model rural center, FiftyForward College Grove lies in the heart of southeast Williamson County.  Housed in a former elementary school building operated by the Williamson County Department of Recreation, our center is welcoming to the College Grove and surrounding communities.

FiftyForward College Grove currently services 120 members with an average daily attendance of 45. It is a dynamic and growing center serving adults 50 and older in a fun-filled, active learning and social environment.  They offer fitness classes, art instruction, and educational programs. They have a talented writer’s group, a lively book club, and a tenacious quilt guild. The center draws participants from Williamson County and surrounding communities of Rutherford, Marshall, Bedford, Davidson and Maury counties. The College Grove Center is a one-stop shop where you can participate in an aerobics class, get a massage or manicure, have your taxes filed or paint a picture, all in one day. 

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the center:

  • Excellent Strategic Plan.
  • Very committed and supportive participants and Advisory Council 
  • Great amount of programming and variety considering the size of the community and the Center. The Center serves as a much needed “one-stop shop” for access to activities and services in the community.
  • Very participant driven and serves as a local hub of socialization opportunities for many in the community who would otherwise be isolated. 
  • Great support from parent organization.

FiftyForward Madison Station

FiftyForward Madison Station is located in the heart of Madison, with a population of around 40,000, it is approximately 11 miles from downtown Nashville. In response to an initial grant from The Memorial Foundation, Madison Station was designed and opened due to a documented community need for a senior center. FiftyForward Madison Station opened in 1996 and serves adults 50+ who primarily reside in Madison, East Nashville, Inglewood, Old Hickory and segments of Goodlettsville and Hendersonville.

Named “station” because of its proximity to the historic railroad station behind it, FiftyForward Madison Station is a bustling center with 650 members and more than 150 members attending daily. Madison Station is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The peer reviewer found the following strengths of the center:

  • Excellent Strategic Plan.
  • Excellent use of Strategic Plan to implement goals and objectives and remain accountable to the shareholders.
  • Very strong, active, and engaged Advisory Council with well structured, active committees.
  • With multiple centers, implementing the “Center Leader” role to help facilitate more support across the centers seems to have been very beneficial for centers as they share best practices.  Additionally, it has encouraged members to participate at other centers, which is a member benefit.
  • Great variety of programming and implementation of programming attractive to younger, older adults.
  • Impressive growth in programming and implementation of best practices over the last year. Staff have developed and implemented a vision for growth and an action plan for immediate change and change in the future. 
  • The Center is dynamic and constantly growing and changing as needed in response to the membership and community interests.

Groton Senior Center

The Groton Senior Center is located in the Town of Groton, Connecticut situated on Long Island Sound and the Thames River, and is known as the “Submarine Capitol of the World”.  This suburban Town has more than 40,000 residents.  The Town includes divisions of Pfizer and General Dynamics, the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut, and the US Naval Base New London.  This mixture provides for a diverse population which includes military, students, technically trained, as well as blue collar workers.

The Groton Senior Center is a municipally funded center which has been in operation for 40 years. The past four years, it has been in this newly renovated & constructed 35,000 square foot building. It is open to all residents age 55 + as well as non-residents 55+.  The senior population in Groton is approximately 8,000.  In 2013, approximately 2,500 took advantage of the services of the center.  Of those taking part, 25% were 55-65 years, 38% were 66-75 years, 20% were 76-85 and 86+ were 17%.  Of these, 70% of participants were women; 30% men.  Of those attending, 86% were Caucasian, 8% African American, .2% Hispanic, and .2% Asian.  Daily attendance averages 150-200 people per day.

The Groton Senior Center operates as a division of Parks & Recreation, and is primarily municipally funded.  The Groton Senior Citizens Club 55 is a significant donor of funds.

The peer reviewer found the following strengths of the center:

  • The Annual Report for the Park and Recreation program fully integrates the senior center activities into the report.
  • The Ambassador program at the front desk ensures that every person who enters the building is greeted and welcomed. The volunteers are trained to answer all questions and to give tours.
  • The multi-purpose “Cove” is an interesting feature that takes events like a bake sale or serving refreshments to a new level. It is located on the other side of the lobby, a half circle type desk with a counter behind it with a sink. The space is beautiful and functional.
  • Discover Connections is a well-organized and popular program for participants with intermediate dementia and provides respite for family and caregivers. This program meets two days per week and offers activities and lunch for a very minimal cost.
  • Club 55 – the fundraising arm of the senior center offers a wide variety of programs and raises significant monies that are distributed in the community as well as at the center.
  • The Center has examined and planned for many events that are innovative an looking to draw younger older adults as participants. The programs are also geared to welcome everyone in the community. Recently the center hosted the Town’s Holiday kick-off with Santa and activities for Hanukah. They are also planning to host “pop up” programs around the community to take advantage of the popular trend.
  • The Center has a comprehensive exercise program, including the assessment of new participants, so they can find their best level among 4 levels of exercise programs.  Multiple classes are offered each week.

Kingsport Senior Center & KSC at Lynn View Center

The Kingsport Senior Center (KSC) and the KSC at Lynn View Center are both located in Northeast Tennessee in the urban area with a population of 53,937 of which 38.9% of residents are 55+.  Kingsport Tennessee started its support for seniors with the establishment of the Kingsport Senior Club in 1960.  The City took over its operation in 1974 and located the Kingsport Senior Center (KSC) on Center Street in Kingsport.

The Kingsport Senior Center and KSC at Lynn View is owned and operated by the City of Kingsport.  Both centers offer three types of membership:  City resident membership, Sullivan County resident membership, and all other county resident memberships, including the border counties of Southwest Virginia.  Membership at the Kingsport Senior Center and the KSC at Lynn View Center are available for residents age 50 or older and, also, for spouses of current members who are age 50 or older. 

Since both centers are run by the City of Kingsport have some common resources.  The peer reviewer noted these joint strengths:

  • The staff and volunteers have a great working relationship and rely on each other to ensure participants get the best service possible. They go above and beyond expectations.
  • Excellent volunteer program “SMILE – Seniors Making Individual Lives Exciting” with a comprehensive manual and promotional items including new and different T-shirts annually.
  • Center has excellent marketing tools and promotional materials including social media, website, printed materials, radio/tv and annual report
  • Impressive Accreditation Committee process involving several stakeholders. (participants, volunteers, advisory board, community reps.  A best practice included an accreditation kick-off event that included an “Accreditation Process Skit”.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the

Kingsport Senior Center. These included:

  • The center has an impressive woodshop overseen by talented volunteers that also make dulcimers which have been purchased by members who have formed a dulcimer music group that performs in the community. It also emphasizes the local music culture.
  • Center has a higher than average male participation of 32.6% at KSC.  Numerous pool tables and the woodshop is a significant male attractor.
  • Well-developed fitness center overseen by their own specialized Wellness Coordinator.
  • Very active pickleball program.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the KSC at Lynn View Center. These included:

  • The center has developed a best practice Artisan Center program and quality giftshop that highlights the talents of their participants, provides artistic development opportunities and provides income potential for participants to sell in the shop and online.
  • The center has a higher than average male participation at 31%.  Numerous pool tables and the woodshops is a significant male attractor.
  • Very active pickleball program with the goal of installing more outdoor courts.
  • The center has a well-developed fitness centers overseen by their own specialized Wellness Coordinator.
  • The center has excellent marketing tools and promotional materials including social media, website, printed materials, radio/tv and annual report.  The center has an excellent display of several life-size framed photos depicting their participants in positive images for aging in various activities in their main hallways.  This display won a national award for Positive Aging Images in 2018.
  • Initially the center only was open 25.5 hours weekly, but after starting the accreditation process, they expanded their 9am to 2pm hours to 8:30pm to 2:30pm for 32.5 hours weekly and have even added some additional evening hours

Involve your community leaders in the accreditation process and increase your membership through the national accreditation and the self-assessment process. Learn how the National Senior Center Standards and self-assessment process can help you achieve excellence at your center.