Three senior centers achieve National Senior Center Accreditation in December 2019

The Mon Valley Senior Resource Center

The Mon Valley Senior Resource Center is located in 9,130 square feet of space in the Olympia Shopping Center in McKeesport, PA. The parent organization, LifeSpan Inc. consolidated two smaller locations in 2013 to create one larger, more accommodating and vibrant operation near such amenities as a grocery store, bank, dry cleaner, laundry, and various entities.

Mon Valley’s parent organization, LifeSpan, Inc. was established in 1999 with a merger of New Heritage, Inc. and Southwest Services, Inc. LifeSpan is a private, not-for profit, human services organization. Their senior service array now consists of eight senior community resource centers throughout southern Allegheny County.

Mon Valley is a 501(C)3 and is funded through the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging with additional grants, fundraising and program fee proceeds. There is an active membership list of 3,769, with daily participation that fluctuates between 105 and 130. The center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; from 8:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month.

Mon Valley Senior Resource Center employs three full-time staff, and relatively small percentages of nine LifeSpan central office staff who offer fiscal, facility, operations and overall leadership support. There are also 17 volunteers who provide nutritional, office, and program support.

Mon Valley hosts a wide range of programs and services, including congregate lunchtime meals; transportation to and from the center and for medical appointments, as well as recreational excursions; caregiver education; advocacy; information, referral and counseling; volunteer opportunities; and health and wellness, educational, recreational, and intergenerational programming. The center partners with a good number of community organizations in healthcare, higher education, protective services, and supplemental food programs, as well as the public library, and private business.

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

  • A strong, very experienced and committed staff who seem to work very well together
  • An attractive (not at all stereotypical) facility located in a relatively high traffic commercial area with several nearby convenient amenities
  • Good variety of programs
  • A popular annual community picnic and resource fair that raised the visibility of the center
  • An engaged Advisory Council who clear took pride and ownership in the center
  • A strong parent organization which provides fiscal, human resources, governing, and facility support, as well as care management services
  • A very strong evaluation program with meaningful outcome surveys
  • A committed volunteer base
  • Excellent relationship with their main funder, the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, which offers performance-based contracting that encourages and rewards increases in attendance, program enhancement, and national senior center accreditation.
  • Visionary leadership by the CEO and Board of Directors.

Stoughton Area Senior Center

The Stoughton Area Senior Center is located along the Yahara River in downtown Stoughton, Wisconsin. Stoughton, a city in Dane County in south central Wisconsin, is about twenty miles southeast of the State’s Capitol in Madison. The City of Stoughton’s population is currently 12,611. The combined population of the city and surrounding towns the center services is approximately 26,558.

The facility is a three-story freestanding building. The building, formally a savings bank, was purchased by the city in 1994. The building was reconstructed to accommodate a multi-purpose senior center. The Center is located on the bank of the Yahara River and affords participants the use of the river for canoe or pontoon rides, fishing decks and outdoor parties on the lawn.

There is no membership fee to participate at the Center. In 2017, there were 1,438 registered participants and 4,377 guests recorded to have provided one or more of the following services 34,244 times: programs, volunteer opportunities, events, congregate meals, home delivered meals, case management, or after-hours facility use. The average daily attendance is 110.

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

  • Stoughton Senior Center is a focal point for seniors not only in Stoughton but also in the outlying communities. One participant traveled 20 miles to attend programs. * The center has a great annual report and distributes it widely.
  • Though a City Department, there are social services at the center with two full time and two part-time case managers.
  • The center has very caring and long term staff as well as members participating on different committees.
  • Evaluations are many with different formats being used and outcomes recorded. Those results are used to evaluate programs and needs of the center with input from the advisory board members and participants.
  • High number of community connections as well as a resource guide. The center is well integrated into the community.

Turtle Creek Senior Center

The Turtle Creek Senior Center was the first senior center established in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It has been serving adults age 60 and older in the eastern part of the county since l972. The center has been a program of Eastern Area Adult Services since this agency was incorporated as a private non-profit organization in 1983

The Turtle Creek Senior Center is located on the first floor of the multipurpose Human Services Center serving children, adults, and families in the Mon Valley area of Allegheny County. The center occupies 5,000 plus square feet. It is open on Monday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Annual participation connects to 427 individuals, with a daily average of 58.

Area Agency funding is broken into base funding, and additional performance-based “tier” funding based on level of participation, and for programs like evidence-based programs that meet higher level objectives. More traditional programs are classified as “compliance”.

Turtle Creek Center works with at least 19 community partners representing health, human services, higher education, law enforcement, arts, library, welfare, and governmental organizations in addition to private businesses.

Major programs include congregate lunches, home-delivered meals, caregiver education, and health and wellness, arts and humanities, educational and recreational programming. There is also information, referral and counseling services, and volunteer opportunities.

There are 2 full-time and 3 part-time staff, as well as 22 volunteers who serve as activity assistants, registration assistants, kitchen serving and cleaning assistants, and those providing administrative support.

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

  • Capable, committed long-serving staff
  • The shared staff assignment between the center and the John Frazer Senior High Rise
  • Enthusiastic Advisory Board members who were engaged center participants
  • A strong volunteer base that supported a substantial Meals on Wheels program
  • A good community outreach effort
  • A well-maintained, generally positive interior center environment
  • An opportunity to improve both funding and program quality through the area agency performance-based contracting
  • Support such as fiscal services, insurance coverage, and human resource services provided by the Eastern Area Adult Services governing board
  • Strong partnerships that helped support quality, diverse programming.

Turtle Creek Senior Center partnered with Mon Valley Senior Resource Center to pursue NISC Accreditation. Achievement of national accreditation is encouraged and recognized by their area agencies on aging as the highest programming tier. Consider partnering with a nearby senior center to share strategies and travel costs of your on-site peer reviewer.

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.