Congratulations to the three Senior Centers from Alaska, Tennessee and Virginia that achieved National Senior Center Accreditation in November 2018.

Jonesborough Senior Center, Tennessee

The Jonesborough Senior Center is located in the Eastern Tennessee town of just 5,000 people.  Given this small-town size, the construction of a new 30,000 SF center in 2016 was a remarkable achievement made possible by significant public funding support. The new center’s success can be attested by the growth from 500 to nearly 2,000 members, many of whom come from outside communities, including the much larger Johnson City.

The center is estimated to serve an average of 192 persons per day. About 74% of the members are age 74 or younger, including 26% who are under 65. 65% are female and about 3% represent minority groups. Staff members have expanded to eight, about half of whom are part-time.

The senior center’s annual budget of nearly $660,000 is funded 85% by the town, 6% from the state and 9% from other sources including county, area agency grants, membership fees, donations, and fundraising projects. Annual membership fees ranged from $10 for Jonesborough residents to $20 for county residents outside the town to $30 for participants outside the county.

There is a wide variety of programs, averaging 14 to 19 different activities, classes, and trips daily. The center uses the Seven Dimensions of Wellness to develop a holistic, comprehensive mix of programs. The lower level of the center is devoted to wellness activities, including a state of the art fitness facility, a large multipurpose space that accommodates active wellness classes, and quiet spaces for health exams and consultations. Other significant programs include transportation to and from the center, congregate meals, home delivered meals, information/referral, and some in-home care services.

The center is governed by the Jonesville Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen which hires and manages the Executive Director.  There is also an active Advisory Board, composed of center and community members, whose function was significantly upgraded in preparation for the new center and accreditation process.

The small-town setting enables close community partnerships with many organizations including the area agency, extension office, county health department, neighborhood service centers, Alzheimer’s Association, area nursing homes and assisted living communities, financial institutions, home health agencies, and legal aid services. The center also has established a relationship with East Tennessee State University which provides interns and technical assistance to some center programs.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths of the senior center:

  • A beautiful new center that had greatly increased membership;
  • A caring staff that worked together well and met daily to insure coordination of programs and services;
  • Outstanding leadership that welcomed and accommodated change;
  • Strong diverse programming with a holistic framework provided by the seven dimensions of wellness;
  • Committed, capable volunteers and an engaged advisory council;
  • A dynamic self-assessment process involving staff, volunteers, and community leaders;
  • Strong public financial support, and a commitment to strategic future planning that will insure continued growth and success;
  • Excellent community networking and collaboration, including a jointly funded service coordinator with the Area Agency who was housed at the center;
  • A well thought out continuum of wellness programs on the lower level; and
  • Model programs and practices such as the parish nursing collaboration and use of jail inmates to complete construction of the new facility.

Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc. Alaska

Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc (SCOK), a non-profit corporation established in 1973, provides support services for people 60 & older on Kodiak Island at the Kodiak Senior Center. It is in the downtown area in the City of Kodiak.  Although located in the City, they consider themselves rural primarily to their remote location.  The agency’s mission is “To enhance the lives of older adults”.

SCOK was original formed to provide basic Information and referral service.  The agency grew to offer congregate and home delivered meals at a local senior independent apartment complex.  In 1985, through federal & state funding, it moved to an 8,000 sq. ft multi-use senior center.  With a state grant, SCOK began an Adult Day Care program, Island Cove, in 1991 at the same senior independent living apartment complex they started their meal programs, then moved that program into the lower level of the senior center in 1996.  Since 2006, SCOK has received over $2 million in deferred maintenance, foundation & state legislative capital grants.  These funds allowed them to add more than 4,000 sq. ft in program space as well as other needed facility improvements.

SCOK serves 2,271 people 60 & over on the island with congregate (5 days a week) and home delivered (7 days a week) meals, transportation (7 days a week) as the lead agency, Information and Referral, family caregiver support & trainings, respite, care coordination, Lifeline, Medicare waiver services and counseling, equipment closet, chore service and an Adult Day Care program (7 days a week).

Kodiak Island has a population of 13,287 and is the 2nd largest island in the country.  It is 252 miles southwest of Anchorage, the state’s largest city.  There are 6 villages on the island, each with a population of 500 people.  Access to the island is by plane (1 hour) from Anchorage or by ferry (9 to 12 hours) from Homer.  Kodiak also has the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the largest Coast Guard based in the country with a population of 3,000.

There are 2,271 seniors 60 and over living on Kodiak Island, mostly in the City of Kodiak.  66% are white, 6% Native Alaskan, 25% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% African American and 2% Hispanic.  196 are 80 and older and the fastest growing segment of the senior population is the 75 and older group.  Most Kodiak seniors are between 65-74 (41%). SCOK serve 99% of the seniors on Kodiak Island.  The average daily attendance is 70 with seniors participating in activities, the meals programs and adult day program.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths of the senior center:

  • Community collaboration and service delivery is SCOK’s strongest area. Extensive community partnerships both in aging services, corporations, City of Kodiak and other community non-profits.
  • Very dedicated and caring staff who work together well and love working with their senior population. Go the extra mile to ensure all their needs are met. Everyone (including the Executive Director) chips in where needed including serving meals, transporting volunteers/participants, filling in for staff out on leave, etc.
  • The SCOK Executive Director is also Mayor of Kodiak and serves on several boards at the local, regional (Borough), state and national level and has developed extensive relationships that positions them to successfully pursue numerous grants. Several staff also serve on many local community boards.
  • The SCOK endowment development is very impressive, growing an initial $100,000 donation up to over $2 million which they rarely utilize to ensure their sustainability. Other Endowment Fund contributors include corporations, local organizations and senior participants.  SCOK recognizes significant donors on a main hallway wall with large wooden ship/boat steering wheels.
  • Having the general senior center on one floor and the Adult Day Care program on another floor in the same facility works well for “aging in place” transitions among the participants and maintains their ability to stay in their own home longer.
  • Kodiak has a very diverse population and SCOK’s staffing, board and participants reflect that diversity.

This is the center’s fourth accreditation.  Most of the center’s self-assessment committee were very impressed with the accreditation process and expressed that it was very in depth and they all learned new things about the operations at the center.  They were also glad to have the opportunity to give their input into the future development of SCOK.

The Center, Charlottesville, Virginia

The Center, formerly known as Senior Center, Inc., is in Albemarle County, Virginia. The City and County combined population in 156,000.  The county is historically rural but is rapidly urbanizing and is being marketed as a great place to retire.  Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia and The Center has grown with the University.

The Center was founded as a program within the University League, now the Junior League of Charlottesville in 1960.  In 1963 it became an independent 501(c)3 corporation and is governed by a Board of Directors, a majority of whom are senior center members. The Center has had three homes with the current facility designed for their use, built with no government support and opened in 1991 with no debt.  The Center takes pride in the fact that they have never received state, local or Federal government funding. The Board and Center have identified that they are outgrowing their facility. Six acres of land were purchased in the Belvedere neighborhood, 2 miles from the current location, plans have been developed and approved and they are in a capital campaign to open the Center at Belvedere in 2020.  A great deal of the strategic planning of the Center revolves around this move, including rebranding, building up programs, etc.

Most of the Centers members come from Albemarle County (59%) and Charlottesville (29%).  The Center has almost 2,000 members who are largely Caucasian (79%) and female (69%).  Their average daily attendance is listed as 260-430.

It is important to note the recent history of the City of Charlottesville with the incident of August 12, 2017 during a “Unite the Right” rally.  This incident and the racial tensions that were exposed have had a deep impact on the people of the area, including the senior center.  In response, there is a clear and purposeful effort to address diversity in the Center. They have built relationships with key people in the community and are actively engaged in the process of meaningful outreach. It should also be noted that the Center has used the self-assessment process as a vehicle to move the needle on this issue by who they asked to participate.

This is The Center’s fourth accreditation.

The Peer Reviewer noticed the following strengths of the senior center:

  • The Center’s leadership, including an engaged Board, Executive Director, staff and Council are top notch.
  • The Center’s engagement in the difficult issues affecting their community are commendable.
  • The Center is a leader in marketing.
    • Their rebranding, including the process, are a model.
    • Their marketing materials are excellent.
    • We especially liked the “By the Numbers” found in the annual report
    • The marketing slogans that have been developed including “Find Your Center” and “Share the Power of Healthy Aging”.
    • One noted practice is “Try it Out Tuesdays” where prospective members can attend programs at no cost.
  • The Center’s strategic planning process is unique and effective. The Center is strategic in all areas of planning and operations. They have developed a unique process for planning, goals and objectives that utilizes an overarching strategic framework that has broad input and identifies key strategic issues.
  • Evaluation is integrated into the Center and the results are used effectively for planning and marketing.
    • We especially liked the Impact Map, a visual logic model that demonstrates how they meet their mission including goals, resources, activities, productivity and impact.
  • The Center’s succession plan is a model.
  • The Center has applied the dimensions of wellness framework to program planning to ensure that programs are well rounded and have impact.

Involve others in your future goals and plans, instill pride in your community, strengthen your capacity 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.  Learn more about NISC Accreditation.