It took about 18 months and a lot of work, but the Barrington Senior Center has been re-accredited for another five years.
And the re-accreditation puts the center into some exclusive company – one of only 7 senior centers in Rhode Island and one of only 120 senior centers across the country with the accreditation.
“It’s pretty prestigious,” said Louse House, director of the senior center. “And it shows that we go above and beyond and want to be the best that we can be.”
The new accreditation comes from the National Institute of Senior Centers, an affiliate of the National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C., said Director Louise House. It’s the third time the senior center has been accredited.
The process involved 25 volunteers coming together to address nine separate standards the senior center had to meet, House said. The task this time around involved “a lot more work pulling all the materials together, such as a volunteer handbook, and the center’s policies, and computer usage,” she said.
The application for accreditation ultimately came to hundreds of pages of information in a loose-leaf binder several inches thick. House needed to make three copies.
A peer reviewer then spent an entire day visiting the senior center and talking to just about anyone who has some involvement with the facility, House said, such as the town manager, the Town Council liaison and the staff and board.
The letter informing House that the center was re-accredited came about two weeks ago. It said that the accreditation board met on July 25 and “unanimously approved the recommendation for accreditation.”
The letter also said: “Your organization demonstrates outstanding leadership and commitment to quality programs and services.”
Among the strengths cited by the NISC are:
- Outstanding staff and board.
- Strong relationship with town manager and Town Council.
- Wide variety of programming, especially strong in the creative arts.
- Strong community connections, specifically with health care providers, the YMCA and town departments.
- Good evaluation practices.
- Cheerful and welcoming location despite it being in the basement of the library building.
- Dialer program, funded by the Friends of the Senior Center.
Would House go through the accreditation process again?
Absolutely, she said, “The seniors deserve a really nice place.”
Indeed, the Barrington Senior Center draws approximately 80 people a day from all over the East Bay, including 50 or more for lunch. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
A final note: House is still considered the interim director.
“I came for six month, and I’m still here,” she said.