by Sarah F. Wimberley
Center in the Park (CIP) was one of Impact100 Philadelphia’s 2022 Grantees, receiving a $50,000 grant as voted by our members. As a nationally accredited senior center, CIP represents less than 2% of senior centers in the country with this distinction. Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, CIP has classes and programs from A-Z, Aging Mastery to Zen, with over 150 participants per day attending on-site classes and programs.
Coined as a “Gem in Germantown” by our participants, CIP has a 54-year history as an anchor in the community through which we continue to realize our mission: “to promote positive aging and foster community connections for older adults whose voices are critical instruments in shaping its activities and direction.”
Over the years, CIP evolved from a traditional senior center to a nationally recognized “wellness center” model, improving the health and well-being of thousands of older adults. Ageism, coupled with the realities of poverty, often conspires against us in later life. CIP empowers people age 55+ to achieve physical, social, and emotional wellness in addition to providing social services, home support, information, and referrals to the community in search of assistance for older adults. CIP also offers Housing Counseling and Energy assistance programs for Philadelphians of all ages as well as Long-term Care Ombudsmen for NW and NE Philadelphia long-term care facilities.
In July 2021, after 15 months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CIP reopened its building for on-site classes and programs. Activities were re-introduced with safety precautions and occupancy restrictions to allow for social distancing. Online classes continued, and, as the infection rates in Philadelphia fell, CIP saw increased attendance from both new and returning members. CIP was thrilled to see our participation numbers reach near-pre-COVID levels, with CIP serving 1,353 unique individuals in the last fiscal year (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022). Additionally, 143 new members joined the center, 289 unique individuals attended Health Promotion Activities, and over 23,000 meals were served.
In the area of social services, CIP provided information and referrals to 1,324 individuals, 175 received services through our Neighborhood Energy Center, and 353 received housing counseling. Additionally, our Ombudsmen made 149 visits to long-term care facilities in Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia, providing information and consultation to 222 residents and their families.
CIP was recently awarded a one-year grant from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health to implement a COVID Recovery and Emergency Preparedness Plan for Germantown. CIP will design and conduct a rapid community assessment to identify assets and vulnerabilities related to COVID recovery, natural disasters, and other emergencies in Germantown, cultivate a neighborhood Advisory Committee, create a culturally relevant Emergency Preparedness Toolkit, and implement a peer-based Preparedness Ambassador program training community members on key emergency preparedness messaging.
CIP was awarded a Strategic Marketing project, an estimated value of over $200,000, with Compass Greater Philadelphia to help CIP better fulfill our mission and vision through effective marketing. Our team of pro bono consultants are currently assessing, evaluating, and determining gaps in CIP’s marketing and media presence and, at the end of the project, will provide a marketing strategy and roadmap aligned with CIP’s recently adopted strategic plan.