Wallingford Community Senior Center Programs
We engage the full-spectrum of our senior population and appeal to our community-at-large with a variety of program opportunities and an inviting place to gather. Our programs are delivered in a community setting that fosters social connections and encourages lifelong learning.
Volunteers play a key role – enhancing program strength and gaining a positive experience from their involvement. We see every program interaction as a chance to make a difference and create a personal sense of welcome, and we seek feedback to continually improve. Affordability and accessibility are key; 1/3 or more of our participants have financial or functional limitations. Our portfolio includes tracks that promote:
- Healthy Active Living: Physical activity, healthy eating, and social engagement are fundamental to overall health. We offer exercise classes, walking events, and classes & information on health topics. Our senior lunch program, cooking & nutrition classes, community kitchen, and other meal programs reinforce healthy dietary behaviors.
- Social &Transition Support: We offer resource navigation assistance, caregiver support, Medicare and senior rights advice, and conversation – discussion groups. Developing further capacity in this realm is a program priority. We especially want to strengthen support to 55+ job-seekers, family caregivers, and those adjusting to retirement.
- Technology Learning & Access: Our community technology center is our platform to foster digital literacy. We do this through computer classes; 1-on-1 mentoring; advice and assistance for technology problems, and topical workshops (e.g. online job search tools, tablet devices, connecting across miles with technology). Our lab is also available for public computing access.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
WCSC is in a positive period of expansion and building capacity, so we can increase our reach and our organizational sustainability. Important markers of our progress and momentum in 2012 include:
- 35% to 50% increases in program participation in key health promotion and nutrition programs.
- Stronger, expanded board and community advisory council, as measured by both numbers of members and levels of involvement.
- Initiation of 'aging in community' program track to reflect new thinking about healthy aging.
- Emergence as strong contributor to community-building in local neighborhood.
WCSC faced near-closure in late 2009 after long-standing financial difficulties and general instability across the local aging / senior center sector. Even several years after the fact, we are focused on organizational turnaround, and are on a path of strategic redefinition and revitalization.
We have made notable strides. And still, our most pressing need is support for building capacity.
As we transform the organization and expand our service reach and population, we need:
- Greater staff capacity for program development, volunteer management, and marketing and communications.
- Stronger internal infrastructure especially to support data management and communications.
- Expanded volunteer capacity – more volunteers in a range of roles big & small.
We need to intentionally and thoughtfully grow – to become the nimble, sustainable community resource of our vision and to meet the coming 'age-wave'. At its core, our plan is about building community and individual resilience. The challenge is big. Our ideas are bold. And our will to succeed is strong