In KovirPage's work around the country, we verified what we already suspected: each center is vastly different.
We work in urban, suburban, rural, or hybrid areas. We are part of COAs, Parks & Rec, subsidiaries, satellites, non-profits, and for-profits. Our operating budgets range from a few thousand to several million dollars. Some sites are run by one or two people and others have a litany of professionals to rely on. Whether you are exploring how senior centers fit into the greater care model, if you are new to this work, or you have been in our industry for what seems like a lifetime, ensuring our sector maintains a unified mission is critical.
No matter our differences in size, shape, color, or language, at our core the mission of senior centers everywhere is to Empower Healthy Aging.
We may add values such as dignity, respect, and independence. We may use buzz phrases like "community-based" or "quality of life." We may add specifics like socialization, wellness programs, information & referral, transit, and more. All of that help sites show their flares, but we are united in empowering healthy aging.
What's the grand vision in our community-based work?
Let me show you the 5 Why's Exercised used in program development, fund development, and theory of change strategic planning to get to our shared vision.
Why do senior centers want to empower healthy aging? To promote healthier older adults.
Why have healthier older adults? To promote healthy communities.
Why have healthier communities? To promote aging in place for as long as possible, if desired.
Why age in place? Not only for the quality of life from the person but also for promoting intergenerational communities.
Why have intergenerational communities? To see the value in each other. The diversity of age adds qualitative and quantitative value to the larger community and to individuals across the lifespan.
Isn't that neat? The childlike, repetitive "why" really gets you to dig deeper into your mission to flesh out your vision.
... Value each other... Diversity of age... Across the lifespan...
Senior centers' boiled down, unified vision is to dismantle ageism!
Again, our team has yet to come across two sites that are exactly the same, but each site we've worked alongside has had the essence of this mission and vision at the core of what they do. The more vibrant and inter-connected sites are with their communities, the larger their impact has been. (But effectiveness is a whole other blog post.)
When you do the 5 why's, do you come up with anything different? Please comment below!
Thanks for the work you do, stay healthy!