The Oregon Area Senior Center is to remain an accredited organization for the next five years.
The center officially re-received the status in December after a year-and-a-half long process, one that has taken place every five years since 1994.
Senior center director Rachel Brickner said accreditation is important because it holds the facility accountable to its seniors who use it every day.
She said staff had worked on the latest process since summer 2018, using Wisconsin Association of Senior Centers (WASC) guidelines and a re-accreditation committee of seniors who work with the center’s Council on Aging.
Brickner and the committee examined the senior center policies, making sure they accurately reflect the goals and services senior center staff aim to meet and provide.
WASC has nine areas of standards for accreditation, Brickner said, including purpose, community, governance, administration, programming, fiscal management, records and facilities.
One of the initiatives the senior center implemented to help meet those standards was to establish more stringent guidelines on commercial entities and businesses seeking to gain access to seniors to promote products or services.
“We’ve seen an increase in people approaching us and wanting to rent our building after hours for commercial purposes – putting on a presentation, for example, about insurance and Medicare aimed at seniors,” Brickner told the Observer in July. “We don’t feel comfortable having our building used for those purposes. The senior center is a safe haven … seniors are a vulnerable part of the population.”
WASC representatives visited the center on Nov. 5, 2019, to meet with staff to tour it and talk with seniors. They asked the seniors about their favorite things to do at the center, and what amenities they are most proud of.
Patrons reported they enjoyed having a home away from home, being around other seniors, the exercise programs, making new friends, health check ups, fellowship and opportunities for volunteer, according to the WASC evaluation. The two most commonly enjoyed activities were social interaction and fitness classes.
Center patrons also told WASC representatives they wanted to see more board games and puzzles, more exercise space, more sharing time with desserts and coffee, daily bingo and even embroidery courses.
In a letter from WASC to the senior center, the organization commended staff for its executive board being made up of many community members, its large print monthly newsletter, Brickner’s articles in the Observer and good policies and procedures.
In a letter from Brickner to village board members dated Dec. 11, she said not every senior center in the state meets the standards set by WASC.
“I would like to acknowledge the efforts and dedication of the more recent re-accreditation committee members and thank them for all they contributed to the successful completion of this process,” Brickner wrote.