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Celebrate National Senior Center Month: Find balance at your center!

September is National Senior Center Month and this year’s theme is
Find balance at your center!


Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize their local senior center isn’t what it used to be – it’s a lot more! According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) there are 11,400 senior centers across the US that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Thanks to the Older Americans Act (OAA), senior centers have become a community focal point and one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

NCOA also shared that when compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction. They go on to say that research shows participants learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being. The 2016 theme focuses on a great balance of purpose, fitness, friendship, and learning.

Senior Center Month 2016 PosterSenior centers typically offer a wide variety of programs and services such as, but certainly not limited to, the following:

* Meal and nutritional programs
* Health, fitness, and wellness programs
* Computer/technology learning programs
* Public benefits counseling
* Employment assistance
* Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
* Social and recreational activities
* Educational and arts programs

Locally Messiah Lifeways sponsors and operates two senior centers, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More located at 97 W. Portland Street and Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More located on 115 N. Fayette Street in Shippensburg. This collaborative effort between Messiah Lifeways, local and county officials, and the Cumberland County Department of Aging and Community Services further demonstrates the commitment to and value of local senior centers.

Senior Center ChoirServing Senior Meals at Mechanicsburg PlaceThese senior centers are friendly community gathering places where you can connect, volunteer, enjoy cultural experiences, take educational classes and a lot more. Activities like line dancing, low impact exercise, health screenings and flu shots help members stay well and active. Members also experience culture with bus trips and outings to local restaurants, theaters and historical sites. They also have many opportunities to connect with others at meal time, game time or while playing pool or singing in the chorus. Participants also have many ways to grow and learn by taking computer classes, health and safety classes or simply by meeting new people. And like most senior centers, volunteering is a big part of the experience. Whether it’s helping out at the center by answering phones, serving lunch or helping out with community service projects, members can share their time and talents.

Mechanicsburg Place was chosen as one of ten senior centers in Pennsylvania to host a program called the “Sip and Swipe Café.” It’s part of the center where members can get a cup of coffee and free lessons on how to use an iPad by trained instructors. There are multiple tablets for them to use on a regular basis. This calls to mind that senior centers are making great effort reinventing themselves. Meeting the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation has helped inspire these changes. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month, get out there and check out what’s new and exciting at your local senior center. Plus, to learn more about Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.697.5947 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/MechPlace or to learn more about Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.300.3563 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/BranchCreek.

Branch Creek Place Receives State Grant

Mechanicsburg, PA – On May 14, Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne announced the recipients of the 2015-16 Senior Community Center grants, totaling over $2 million from the Pennsylvania Lottery to be distributed to 43 Senior Community Centers across the commonwealth. Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center & More, located in Shippensburg, Cumberland County, was awarded $32,600 to advance projects to modernize their facilities, attract new members, and help better meet the needs of their many participants.
“Senior community centers serve as accessible, safe harbors and local gateways to a robust system of home and community based services that older adults can rely upon as they strive to age in place,” said Secretary Osborne. “These grants will make an important difference in the lives of countless older Pennsylvanians.” She continued by noting that “One of the most important things we can do for Pennsylvania’s seniors is to provide the means for them to stay active and involved in their communities,” Osborne said.

Megan Stedjan, Messiah Lifeways Director of Community Support Services, echoed the Ms. Osborne’s sentiments, “Branch Creek Place has experienced enormous growth since moving to the new facility at 115 N. Fayette Street. This grant will enable us to make a number of exterior improvements for the safety and well-being of many members. We are truly grateful.”

To learn more about the wide array of educational, social, and wellness programs available through the center, please visit their website or call 717.300.3563.

 

Branch Creek Place Cuts the Ribbon on New Home

The Shippensburg News Chronicle’s Curtis Garland provides an extensive review of the Shippensburg Senior Center’s journey to their beautifully renovated new home on 115 N. Fayette Street. The paper recounts the story of how Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center & More has been infused with new life,  a new facility, and bright new hope for the days ahead.  The article follows here or subscribers can visit the paper’s website.

Shippensburg seniors dedicate permanent home at Branch Creek Place

Shippensburg seniors finally have a place to call home thanks to a collaborative effort between several private and public entities across county lines.

Branch Creek Place, a Senior Center & More, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday to officially open at the former Shippensburg Community Center at 115 N. Fayette St. More than 130 seniors celebrated the milestone with a group of dignitaries, senior center staff, and representatives from the center’s sponsor, Messiah Lifeways — a Mechanicsburg nonprofit that offers a network of senior citizen programs and sponsors other senior centers.

“It’s been a long journey. We finally got here,” Charles “Chick” Stanat, president of the senior center’s advisory board, said to loud applause.

The search

The quest for a home for Shippensburg area seniors has been a slow and sometimes winding process. For many years, the senior center was located at the former Shippensburg Community Center, but relocated temporarily to the Shippensburg Health Care Center in 2005 when Shippensburg Borough dropped its sponsorship. Southampton (Cumberland) Township Supervisors offered the former Cleversburg Community Center as a new home in November 2006. However, supervisors said years of growing operations costs were draining township funds and they voted to drop their sponsorship of Southampton Place, effective June 30, 2013. Subsequent negotiations then extended that effective date by 90 days.

Messiah Lifeways entered the picture shortly thereafter and offered to sponsor the group but pointed out it had no facility for the purpose. After an intense scramble that lasted months, Christ United Methodist Church offered a temporary home beginning Nov. 1, 2013, while a permanent solution was sought. The center later landed a $112,000 state grant and it was announced the former Shippensburg Community Center would be renovated to become the seniors’ new home. The center also received additional county funding and donations to complete the renovation.

Stanat thanked local legislators, officials, donors, Messiah Lifeways, and businesses for their collaboration in helping the senior center settle into a new home.

Ribbon-cutting

Carl Bert, a Messiah Lifeways board member and owner of Carl Bert & Associates, said Thursday the new senior center is what happens when good leadership comes together to make things happen. He said the building looks great and then offered a prayer.

Andrea Lage, president of Shippensburg Borough Council, spoke on behalf of the council and Shippensburg Mayor Bruce Hockersmith. She said Hockersmith could not attend the ceremony because he went to his granddaughter’s graduation from pharmacy school. She noted Sen. Richard Alloway II’s help in obtaining a major state grant for the senior center and Hockersmith’s role in Christ United Methodist Church becoming the senior center’s temporary home.

“The church was the bridge that got us here today,” she said.

Terry Barley, director of Cumberland County Aging & Community Services, then introduced the Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging, Teresa Osborne. A native of Scranton, Osborne most recently served as executive director of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging.

“A project such as this one, that affords us the opportunity to gather and to recognize the hard work and dedicated efforts of so many, is worthy of our celebration,” she said. She continued the celebration was fitting because May is Older Americans Month. The new senior center represents nutritious meals, health services, exercise classes, educational classes and much more for area seniors, she said.

Vice chairman of the Cumberland County Commissioners Jim Hertzler said the project showed what can happen when different entities work together.

“It really was worth the wait,” he said.

David Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners, said, “Today’s event doesn’t happen without vision.”

He explained several Shippensburg residents had the vision to buy a grocery store and dedicate it to the borough. That building eventually became the community center and now the senior center.

Keller said the center was a shining example of when municipalities and private enterprise come together to make something happen. He urged the seniors to never quit and to stay active.

“I hope this is a real benefit to future generations,” Keller said.

“It is exciting to see what’s happening here,” State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-89) said. “It almost seems like a dream.”

He echoed Keller’s comments in saying that many entities pitched in to bring the senior center to downtown Shippensburg — a centrally located center for both Franklin and Cumberland County residents.

Stacy Gregson, field representative in Alloway’s office, said Alloway was very sad he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he was at an event with the Chesapeake Bay Commission. She said the project was very close to his heart and it was a collaborative effort.

Stanat was given the honor of cutting the purple ribbon in front of the senior center. He was surrounded by Barley, Osborne, Messiah Lifeways Connections Director Geli Losch, and Branch Creek Place Manager Anne Hinkle. He cut the ribbon with large scissors to loud applause and cheers.

Long time coming

Everyone then got out of the sun into the air-conditioned center for cake, punch, and refreshments. Every table in the large dining room was occupied with seniors, dignitaries and staff members engaged in lively conversations.

Phil and Ruby Dorosh, of the Shippensburg area, have been members of the senior center for more than five years. They were checking out the before and after photos set up inside the center.

“This is fantastic,” Ruby said. “This has been a long time coming.”

She said things looked a little iffy when the seniors had to leave Southampton Place, but it all worked out in the end.

Phil said he remembered ballroom dancing with his wife at the building when it was a community center and it was great to see it transformed into a senior center.

The bright orange painted walls and wooden paneling are gone, said Rick Yohe, co-owner of R A Yohe Restoration & Construction LLC. His company has been renovating the 8,400-square-foot senior center since October.

He said exterior work included building a new handicapped-accessible ramp and painting the sides of the building. Interior work included installing a new HVAC system, installing new drywall, putting in a new drop ceiling, laying down carpets, constructing new bathrooms that are handicapped-accessible, and adding cabinets. They also installed a wooden floor near the corner of the dining room for exercise classes and dancing.

“This is a huge improvement for the community of Shippensburg,” Yohe said. “We’re happy to be able to support the community.”

Karin Bisbee, Messiah Lifeways director of gift development and communications, said the kitchen features new appliances as well as countertops, and Messiah Lifeways furnished the large dining room with many tables and chairs. She said the senior center also includes an activities room, a quiet lounge area, a computer lab that will eventually have a few computers, a quilting room, and offices for the center’s managers.

“It’s rewarding to see it all come together,” Bisbee said. “It epitomizes community collaboration.”

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Hinkle said. She thanked everyone for the collaborative effort to give the senior center a home.

“We have a sponsor that has a heart for the seniors. It’s a blessing,” Hinkle added. She continued the new building allows the senior center to host a myriad of activities and gives them an opportunity to explore new activities. The senior center currently has 167 members and they hope the new building can help them return to more than 200 members, Hinkle said. The center is open to seniors who are at least 50 years old.

The senior center’s assistant manager, Liz Robinson, said they were grateful for Messiah Lifeways’ sponsorship as well as friendship. She said they had no hesitation in donating all the furniture for the dining room.

“I’ve had so many people tell me it looks so homey here,” Robinson said. She added the facility could also be rented for weddings, receptions, parties and more.

Audrey Keyes, of Shippensburg, is a senior center member who often comes to Bible study and exercises. She said the center offers a variety of activities and lunches for area seniors. She thanked Hinkle for all her hard work throughout the uncertain journey.

Vietnam War veteran Dennis Hockenberry can no longer speak, but he wrote his thoughts of the new senior center in a statement to The News-Chronicle.

Hockenberry said the building was more than just a senior center: it was a place for veterans and many others to meet new friends and get the occasional thank you for military service (he noted that gratitude makes veterans feel a whole lot better).

“Thank God for places like this,” he stated. “It really does help cope with and enjoy life.”

Rachel McKinney, a senior center member, said Branch Creek Place is centrally located in Shippensburg compared to the one in Cleversburg. In addition, she said Messiah Lifeways is an organization that is very dedicated to seniors.

“This is a model for what every senior center should have,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

Branch Creek Place is located at 115 N. Fayette St. in Shippensburg. For more information, call (717) 300-3563 or visit: www.messiahlifeways.org/live-well/senior-centers/branch-creek-place.

What Is Aging in Place?


What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to MessiahLifeways.org/community-support.

Senior Centers: Celebrating a Community Focal Point


September is National Senior Center Month – Celebrate!

Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize their local senior center isn’t what it used to be – it’s a lot more! According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) there are 11,400 senior centers across the US that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Thanks to the Older Americans Act (OAA), senior centers have become a community focal point and one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

NCOA also shared that when compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction. They go on to say that research shows participants learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being.

Senior centers typically offer a wide variety of programs and services such as, but certainly not limited to, the following:

* Meal and nutritional programs
* Health, fitness, and wellness programs
* Transportation services
* Public benefits counseling
* Employment assistance
* Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
* Social and recreational activities
* Educational and arts programs

Locally Messiah Lifeways sponsors and operates two senior centers, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More and the newly christened Senior Center in Shippensburg, now known as Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More. On September 2, a huge gathering came to celebrate the name unveiling at the future home of Branch Creek Place located on 115 N. Fayette Street in Shippensburg. This collaborative effort between Messiah Lifeways, local and county officials, and the Cumberland County Department of Aging and Community Services further demonstrates the commitment to and value of local senior centers. Thanks in part to a $112,000 state grant, renovations will begin on Branch Creek Place this fall, with an anticipated completion next spring. At that point, the center will move from its quaint yet cramped and temporary location at the Christ United Methodist Church at 47 E. King Street.

These senior centers are friendly community gathering places where you can connect, volunteer, enjoy cultural experiences, take educational classes and a lot more. Activities like line dancing, low impact exercise, health screenings and flu shots help members stay well and active. Members also experience culture with bus trips and outings to local restaurants, theaters and historical sites. They also have many opportunities to connect with others at meal time, game time or while playing pool or singing in the chorus. Participants also have many ways to grow and learn by taking computer classes, health and safety classes or simply by meeting new people. And like most senior centers, volunteering is a big part of the experience. Whether it’s helping out at the center by answering phones, serving lunch or helping out with community service projects, members can share their time and talents.

Recently, Mechanicsburg Place was chosen as one of ten senior centers in Pennsylvania to pilot a program called the “Sip and Swipe Café.” Essentially, it’s part of the center where members can get a cup of coffee and free lessons on how to use an iPad with trained members instructing other members. There will be multiple tablets for them to use on a regular basis especially as they become more and more proficient on them. This calls to mind that senior centers are making great effort reinventing themselves. Meeting the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation has helped inspire these changes. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month, get out there and check out what’s new and exciting at your local senior center. Plus, to learn more about Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.697.5947 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/MechPlace. Or to learn more about Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.300.3563.