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Rutherford County Senior Center Named “Center of Excellence”

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   “Rutherford County Senior Center provides opportunities for senior adults to help them maintain and enhance their quality of life.”  The Rutherford County Senior Center’s mission statement encompasses the attitude behind their latest award. The Senior Center is pleased to announce that they have been named a “Center of Excellence” by the State of North Carolina’s Division of Aging and Adult Services, which is a Division of the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The certification was presented June 30, 2010, and will be effective until June 29, 2015.

   The staff has worked for many months in preparation for the on-site review. This is the first time the Rutherford County Senior Center has applied for this award. Centers can be named either a Center of Merit or a Center of Excellence.

   County Manager, John Condrey stated, “Becoming a Center of Excellence is a tribute to the hard work of the staff at the Senior Center.  On any given day seniors can go to the center and enjoy various opportunities to socialize with their peers, attend health and information programs, join in special activities, have a nutritious meal, or maybe take a day trip.  The Senior Center program is enhanced through many volunteers.  Many help at the center and others deliver meals to homebound senior citizens across the county.  This award will help enhance our program and increase the center’s reach.”

   There were numerous reasons the Center chose to pursue this certification. The certification enhances a center’s professionalism, provides accountability, assures quality services, improves credibility, markets the organization, identifies excellence, provides a snapshot of the organization, and promotes consistency/uniform standard.

   The Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) also links funding to the level of certification.  Prior to the certification, the Rutherford County Senior Center was able to get one share of state funding. However, now that they are a Center of Excellence, they will be able to access three shares.

   The Senior Center has six full-time employees and nineteen part-time employees. Employees handle scheduling, maintenance, training, meal delivery, event planning, and many more tasks. There are five locations in Rutherford County. The main Center is on Callahan-Koon Road in Spindale and is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am–5pm. The other four are satellite locations at the Shingle Hollow Community Center, Southern Baptist Church in Ruth, Henrietta Baptist Church in Henrietta and Bethel Baptist Church in Ellenboro. These satellite locations are open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-1:00pm. All five locations serve a hot lunch daily, that meet one-third of the recommended daily allowance by USDA standards.

   A lot of hours, including overtime hours, by staff were given in order to get the entire paperwork ready in time for the certification.  However, by going through this process, the Center found ways to improve the services, programs and opportunities for older adults of Rutherford County.

   September is Senior Center Month and our local center has daily activities planned throughout the month. The Center has found it is successful to “sell” the programs, not the Center in general. People are often reluctant to claim a connection to a Center if it conjures up an image of people in rocking chairs just staring at the wall. But, if they can claim to be a part of a specific program, that’s a whole other story. Many seniors consider themselves a part of the exercise classes: Fun Time Cheerleading, Tai Chi, Aerobics, Silver Striders, Jazz, Tap, Line Dance and Senior Games. They claim ownership of the Needlework, Stitchery, and Art Groups to name a few. It makes it easier for newcomers to step through the door if they have a group to belong to.

   In July 2010, there were 162 Senior Centers in North Carolina that were eligible to go through the application/certification process.  Six are at the Merit Level and seventy at the Level of Excellence.

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