Congratulations to the five senior centers that achieved National Senior Center Accreditation in July 2019. These centers include Southcentral/Southeast Focal Point, administered by the City of Miramar, FL; the North Shore Senior Center, Illinois; the Tallahassee Senior Center, FL and two centers operated by the  Worcester County Commission on Aging, Maryland, the Ocean City Senior Center and Northern Worcester County Senior Center.

Southcentral/Southeast Focal Point, Miramar, FL

This senior center program is managed by the Social Service Department of the City of Miramar, Florida. The founding center was established in 1976 and is now known as the Southcentral/Southeast Focal Point Multi-Service Complex.  In 2003, a satellite center at the Sunset Lakes Community Center was opened to serve the west side of the city. And more recently an Adult Day Care Center, also a part of the Southcentral/Southeast Focal Point service area, was opened.  While not a formal part of this review, the adult daycare program plays an important role for seniors who are no longer able to operate independently in the senior centers.

Total square footage dedicated to senior center operations is over 40,000 square feet; however, both the Multi-service complex and the sunset centers function as multi-generational facilities.  Senior programming is mainly early morning to mid-afternoon, while younger participants are served later in the afternoon and evening. Center hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday The agency serves those age 60 plus.

Major programs include Title III lunchtime meals, transportation to and from the center, for medical appointments, and for recreational excursions; caregiver education, employment assistance, volunteer opportunities, and health and wellness, arts and humanities,  recreational, intergenerational and educational programming. Additional services include advocacy, information and referral, adult protective services, financial assistance, and substance abuse intervention. The Center partners with more than 20 major health, educational, governmental, service and social service agencies, and businesses and clubs.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the center: 

  • Well educated, caring staff who were very engaged with participants;
  • A motivated enthusiastic corps of volunteers
  • An impressive diversity among participants and staff that clearly represented the demographics of the service area
  • Beautifully maintained, and attractive facilities that created a positive atmosphere for participants
  • An individualized intake process that was very client centered, and assessed progress in identified health conditions
  • Fantastic generous support from the City of Miramar that reduced barriers to participation
  • A very impressive transportation program that was necessary for participation over such a large service area
  • A well-constructed strategic plan that incorporated comprehensive evidence-based programming such as “Walk with Ease” and the Arthritis Foundation exercise program
  • The establishment of a new adult daycare program with the focal point service area
  • The multi-generational approach to facilities that maximized their benefit for the community.

North Shore Senior Center, Illinois

North Shore Senior Center (NSSC) is a multi-faceted, private non-profit (501c3) senior services organization.  It opened in 1956 and achieved their fifth national accreditation by NISC.  In many areas of lifelong learning and social services it sets the standards for other senior centers across the country to model.

While our primary areas assessed through NISC accreditation are the Lifelong Learning and Social Services programs.  Its adult day respite center for individuals with dementia, the House of Welcome, is an excellent program, it is accredited by another entity and outside the scope of this accreditation.

NSSC has a large main campus in Northfield, a satellite social services office in Evanston, and a satellite senior center at Morton Grove.  In addition, it provides services to over 50 communities in the north suburban area, including municipalities, area hospitals, and senior housing facilities.  It is a highly respected organization and constantly striving to meet the needs of older adults in this area.

According to its participant demographics, Chicago’s northern suburbs have a large and growing population of adults age 65 and over.  The membership of NSSC is primarily married, female, and over 75 years of age.  Total persons served annually unduplicated 20,601, Approximately 400-500 people come to NSSC each day.

NSSC has more than eight different funding sources ranging from federal and state funds to private donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations.  It also has multiple community partners who assist with and/or help deliver services and programs.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the senior center:

  • Continuity plan is commendable!  It is comprehensive and well-developed.
  • Staff vetting fund development sponsorship inquires is a promising senior center practice and a great way to direct the support of outside agencies.
  • Great variety of programs and groups are available to participants. The Lifelong Learning offerings are well developed and comprehensive. Link to program opportunities.
  • Onsite fitness center, offered in partnership with a local fitness organization, provides opportunities for participants without requiring additional staff time.
  • Onboarding of volunteers through an application and interview process is a great way to make sure volunteers are placed in appropriate and meaningful positions.  See their current list of volunteer opportunities.

Tallahassee Senior Center, Florida

The Tallahassee Senior Center (TSC), a multipurpose senior center, is located in Tallahassee, Florida, the State Capital.  The Center is a located in a 26,000 square foot, three-story historical facility, the Old Armory Building.  Tallahassee has an estimated population of 191,000, and is in Leon County.  TSC draws participants from throughout Leon County and the surrounding area through its eleven outreach sites.

Participants are greeted and sign-in at the first floor lobby in the of the Center. On the first floor you’ll also find a billiards room; activity room; dining room, which is used for the congregate meals program (run by another organization) as well as games such as bridge; kitchen; health suite; library area; and offices. The second floor has an auditorium that is used for exercise classes, pickleball, ping pong, and special events; and offices. The third floor has a computer lab; conference room; and offices. An art room, including a studio and kiln is in a separate, nearby area. The center has a large parking lot, with overflow parking in other areas as well as on the street. There is comfortable seating available for those wishing to relax, and an outdoor area with a fountain and seating for reflection or relaxation.

The Center is a unique blend of City Government and a not-for-profit Foundation.  Over half of its budget is provided through the Foundation.  The Senior Services Manager reports to the head of the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department, and is also on the Foundation Board.  For the most part, staff is either a City employee or a Foundation employee. 

The Center offers an impressive, wide variety of programs.  It serves nearly 6,400 individuals per year, with an average attendance of 450-500 per day.  There are 180 different activity opportunities each month. The facility is open to adults of all ages Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and some Saturdays for special events.

The peer reviewer noted the following strengths of the senior center:

  • Unique partnership between City of Tallahassee, Foundation and County.
  • Dedicated and experienced staff and volunteers. The Center has an impressive number of volunteers performing a wide variety of tasks.
  • Extensive and impressive array of programs geared to many interests and activity levels offered at eleven outreach sites.
  • Excellent marketing efforts using a wide variety of techniques, especially social media. 
  • Impressive list of community collaborators and sponsors.
  • Love the Strategic Plan format (not only goals & objectives, but resources needed, partnerships and suggested training).
  • Commitment to the differently abled in programming and facility.
  • The commitment of the City of Tallahassee to building another senior center because of space limitations at the current Center

Worcester County Commission on Aging, Maryland

Two of four centers operated by the Worcester County Commission on Aging, Inc. (WorCOA), a non-profit organization, received national accreditation. They are the Northern Worcester County Senior Center and Ocean City Senior Center.  WorCOA has a board of directors and oversees adult day care, transportation, community services and senior centers.  The mission statement for all WorCOA sites is to “Enhance the quality of life of all Worcester County Citizens 50 years and older by providing programs and services that promote active, independent and healthy lifestyles.”  Both sites are owned and funded by Worcester County government.

Northern Worcester County Senior Center

The Northern Worcester County Senior Center is located in Berlin, Maryland on the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva peninsula. Berlin was named Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America in 2014. The Berlin Senior Center opened in its current location in 2009 moving from its previous location in a Presbyterian Church. The majority of participants are from the surrounding rural area. 

The NWCSC is situated on the main north–south road so it is very accessible and visible. The site is owned and funded by the Worcester County. The center has one large dining room, a small fitness room, a small room used for puzzles, a room used for small group activities, a nice kitchen, and central offices.  The kitchen is a central location for Meals on Wheels distribution to other WorCOA sites.  See the centers list of activities.

Ocean City Senior Center

Ocean City, Maryland is a barrier island off the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva peninsula.  The Ocean City Senior Center, opened in 2004, and serves this community of 6-7,000 residents plus an added 250-300,000 tourists during the warm weather months.  Members come from the surrounding rural community, residents with summer homes, and from Delaware, just across the state line. 

The center is on a site adjacent to the Convention Center.  One side of the building is the bay connecting the island to the mainland and it is a beautiful view.  The site is owned and funded by the Worcester County.  The current building has one large dining room, a small fitness room, an area for pool tables, a nice kitchen, central offices, and another two good size rooms for classes.  One of these rooms is set for card games on Thursday evenings.  There is also a nice patio on the side of the water view. 

Members enjoy a variety of activities including: cards, art projects, ceramic classes, computer classes, exercise classes, trips and guest speakers and more.

Staff commented that at both centers the accreditation process has helped them increase staff, increase hours, and move from primarily activities to increased focus on healthy active lifestyles.  Three years ago, the centers were open 24 hours per week, each center had one employee and few programs were exercise was not a focus.  Now each center has two employees, they are open 30 hours per week and exercise and healthy aging classes are a priority

Consider national accreditation and the self-assessment process as a means to develop continuous learning and improvement at your center so that older adults in your community have the tools to age well. Learn how the National Senior Center Standards and self-assessment process can help you achieve excellence at your center.