Dedicated staff, great facilities and diverse programming were all noted as reasons why the Manassas and Woodbridge Senior Centers were both fully accredited by the National Council on Aging-National Institute of Senior Centers.
Achieving the accreditation means that the centers successfully met the institute's nine standard areas of performance that include purpose, community, governance, administration and human resources, program planning, evaluation, fiscal management, records and reports, and facility.
Accreditation documentation for the centers, which received an on-site peer review as part of the process, stated that the staff at the senior centers were "dedicated and hard-working in support of the mission and the participants." The citation also stated that the annual reports at the senior centers were "well written and detailed" and that the facilities of both centers were "great" with "appropriate space for socializing and classes both large and small."
The Prince William Area Agency on Aging oversees the operation of the senior centers, which serve older residents in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. The accreditation papers noted that the relationship between the senior centers and the agency is strong in the "day to day support that is given to the center."
Area Agency on Aging Director Sarah Henry said the process showed that area seniors are well served by the senior centers. "People who use the senior centers can be assured that they are being offered current programming and that there are opportunities to be engaged in the planning of programs. They can also be assured that staff are held to the highest standards when operating their senior center."
Henry said the senior centers' staff engaged fellow agencies, community partners, citizens and stakeholders to establish the strengths and weaknesses of current operations. Once completed, staff committed to making the necessary changes that would lead to stronger and more successful facilities. "Those efforts resulted in improved visibility, increased safety for participants, and stronger internal controls."
Part of the accreditation process included planning for the future. The senior centers developed a five-year strategic plan that included targeting persons between 55 and 60 to become members of the center, increasing fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily lunch menu, and increasing the offering of programming, such as health and wellness, lifelong learning opportunities, technology and digital devices classes, and opportunities for civic engagement.
Henry said she's sure that the senior centers will meet the criteria for accreditation when they resubmit again in five years. "I am confident that the senior centers will maintain their accreditation. The staff is dedicated to ensuring that we are offering the best services we can to our older adult population."
For more information about the senior centers, visit pwcgov.org/aging.