Portage Senior Center and Sylvania Senior Center achieve National Accreditation

Congratulations to the Portage Senior Center, Portage, MI, and the Sylvania Senior Center, Sylvania, OH, for achieving National Senior Center Accreditation on August 4, 2016.

Portage Senior Center

Portage Senior Center (PSC) was established in 1979 as a division of the Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Portage, MI. PSC moved to its present location in 1982, a 7,200 square foot facility built with Community Development Block Grant funds. PSC, adjacent to the Portage District Library and a senior housing complex, is within the City Center, which includes City Hall, Public Safety, Portage Community Center, and Portage Public School’s administration building.

Active membership, open to individuals over the age of 50, currently stands at 1,300, and last year PSC served a total of 1,730 people. Participants pay a modest membership fee for life-enrichment and social activities ($25 a year for city residents and $35 a year for non-residents). Membership is not required for information, the noon meal, and many other services. Daily attendance averages 145, with about 68% of members from the city, and the remainder from throughout the county and beyond.

The peer reviewer observed many strengths of Portage Senior Center. These included:

  • Accreditation process as implemented by Portage Senior Center members and volunteers.
  • Successful trip program, which functions as both a member service and an agency fundraiser.
  • Excellent branding efforts and Annual Report. The senior center is branding itself with City of Portage designed marketing materials, and makes good use of different media to promote its programs.
  • Extraordinary number of volunteer hours by members and community, equivalent to 11 full time staff members!
  • Use of self-directed teams for accreditation, bicycle club and trip program.
  • Use of off-site programming and collaboration for programs.
  • Facility improvement review and building key system (and beautiful flowers).
  • Variety of programs, many led by members.
  • Asking if information is needed on the membership form to learn how to include a gift to the Senior Center when estate planning.

Sylvania Senior Center

The Sylvania Senior Center is located in Sylvania, OH, which is a suburb of Toledo. The center is part of the 501c3 Community Services Center, Inc. which also houses children’s services. The center has provided services since 1978. It moved to its present facility in 2002 and is located on an easily accessible main street. The City of Sylvania and Sylvania Township agreed to fund the construction of the new senior center if the citizens would pass a tax levy for operations.

There are 4 full time and 7 part time staff and volunteers who serve 2,906 seniors in the area. The center serves 265 participants each day. The state-of-the-art, ADA accessible facility is open to all adults age 55 and older (60+ for some programs). The Sylvania Senior Center is an information resource, offering a multitude of great programs and services.

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

  • Strong community involvement along with board, participants and staff.
  • Great programs with unsolicited testimony as to how they have changed seniors’ lives.
  • Their Home Maintenance Program is a follows best practices, and serves 100 seniors through its efficient design.
  • The senior center uses the slogan “nationally accredited and locally committed”. It is inspiring! Other nationally accredited senior centers might want to adopt this motto.
  • Wonderful facility especially designed to be a senior center. The facility is well designed with lots of storage areas, rooms for different activities, a grand room with a stage, easily accessible
  • entry and classrooms, and lovely landscapes with a totem pole and community garden in the rear of the facility. Participants’ art was hung in the hallways.

The Sylvania Senior Center Self-Assessment Committee agreed that the accreditation process made the foundation of the agency stronger.

The Portage Senior Center Manager called the accreditation experience “senior center boot camp”, because it explored and collected the “guts” of operations, such as emergency procedures. The Center Manager emphasized the high bar for customer service in the city and the senior center, and she believes that accreditation “positions” the senior center by educating the public and the city council about the organization.

Strengthen your organization and position your senior center for success in your community through the NISC National Senior Center Accreditation process.