Two senior centers achieve National Accreditation in January 2019

Congratulations to the Hamilton Township Senior Center, NJ and the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, PA, the first two centers to achieve National Senior Center Accreditation in 2019!

Hamilton Township Senior Center, Hamilton Township, New Jersey

Hamilton Township borders the City of Trenton, New Jersey.  The township is 40 square miles of rural land.

The 15,000 square foot facility is on one level and was formerly an Italian gentleman’s “social club”.  The facility is beautiful and reflects some of the extra features you might find in a social club, i.e. a bar in the main multi-purpose/dining room which is used for non-alcoholic beverages and for their surplus bread distribution.

The front desk has a big screen TV that features a film of the center activities and is located near the staff offices. The building has high ceilings and lots of natural light.  The facility includes a dining room that spans the entire length of the building, a giant dance floor,  a TV room with library and 6 large black leather couches, a craft case with items for sale, a meeting room,  computer room, card room, an exercise/health room with a locker room, a pool table room with 4 tables and an indoor heated swimming pool (and hot tub) that offers classes and free swim in the mornings. There is also a huge fish tank in this area.

There is also an indoor bocce court.  It is a full size, professional court, with score board, tables, benches, etc.  This area has its own bathrooms, storage space and room for a few tables and other games. This bocce area is a left over from the Italian social club days.  There are about 6 teams that are active and there is a lot of tournament play.

Outside there are quarter mile of walking paths, a gazebo, benches, sundeck, vegetable and rose gardens and a set of senior exercise stations for folks to use while walking outside. This space is also used for picnics and events in the summer.

The center has a large parking lot, but it sometimes fills, and people must park on the street.  The senior center was successful in getting the speed limit by the center reduced to 25 mph.  Most of the township is rural, and the center located here in another community would be considered removed from the action, but it doesn’t feel that way in this community.  There is excellent signage on both ends of the street, making the center easy to find.

The center has 8,801 active participants with an average daily attendance of 425 individuals.

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

  • The center has a beautiful facility, extremely clean and well maintained with great outdoor space included.  The walking trails and outdoor facilities are noteworthy.
  • The Center has excellent administrative policies and procedures, especially noting their handbook for volunteers.
  • The volunteers are dedicated and extremely devoted to the center and the jobs they hold.  These individuals are every senior center’s best ambassadors in the community.
  • Strategic plans are ambitious and realistic.  There are 7 goals and the process is reviewed and updated each year. The Township appears to be especially attentive to the plan and have made improvements and capital expenditures based on the center’s goals and objectives.
  • Transportation services are especially comprehensive. In order to maintain older adults in this rural area so they can be safe, healthy and productive community members the Township has made this major commitment to transportation. The economic impact this has on the well-being of the community should also be acknowledged.
  • Programs of note include: team sports, i.e. pool and bocce, Ted Talks, health partnerships for education programs, Dances (many dances!), Operation Reassurance in partnership with the Police Department, and participation in pilot projects for the state of New Jersey, most recently the “NJSave Initiative”.

West Philadelphia Senior Community Center

West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (WPSCC) is managed by Lutheran Children and Family Services (LCFS).  LCFS is managed by Liberty Lutheran, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Liberty Lutheran was founded in January 2001 and provides a full range of services for seniors. The Center has been in existence since 2006.  Liberty Lutheran provides a very supportive structure that enables WPSCC to carry out their mission and provides fiscal, fund development and marketing support.

The center’s facility includes an central atrium activity area, bulletin boards filled with information about upcoming trips and activities, computer room, a sewing room, music room, pottery room, card room, fitness center with new equipment purchased with a grant, classroom and dining room.

The center’s unduplicated service number is 1328 and average daily attendance is 130.

Programs and activities, just a few of which include:

  • Computer center with tablets and training
  • Fitness center and trainer during scheduled hours
  • Exercise and dance classes
  • Quilting and sewing club
  • Pottery classes with kiln firing
  • Discounts for concerts and plays in Philadelphia
  • Free delicious hot lunch for adults age 60 and better
  • Financial and retirement planning seminars
  • Outreach to non-English speakers
  • Support groups for diabetes and other health concerns
  • In-home support for homebound seniors

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

  • West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (WPSCC) is very connected to the community and has a variety of partners who actively provide and support programming.
  • The staff’s participation in organizations and community committees is outstanding.
  • The Advisory council is very active in supporting the Center and includes two community members.
  • The staff is well qualified and has longevity in positions.
  • The Center Director provides dynamic and creative leadership.
  • There is a diverse array of activities and many are led by volunteers.
  • WPSCC has received a variety of grants that provide richness to their programs.
  • Although they are space constrained they use their space well.  Use of the atrium for a variety of activities creates a welcoming, lively and entertaining entrance to the Center.

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.