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Jonesborough Senior Center gets accreditation


Staff Writer

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Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen at Jonesborough Town Hall included some financial findings that many residents will find satisfying, as well as news that the Senior Center had been awarded accreditation by the National Institute of Senior Centers, a rare distinction for any senior center.

The Audit Report from the Fiscal Years 2017-2018 was addressed by a CPA from the town’s auditors of Blackburn, Childers and Steagall, David Babb at the Feb. 11 meeting. Babb said that for the first time in several years, there were zero findings in the audit.

“I think that’s something to be very happy about,” he said.

During the “Communications from the Mayor”, Mayor Chuck Vest announced that the Jonesborough Senior Center had been awarded National Accreditation status and invited Senior Center Director Mary Sanger to speak on the subject.

“We started accreditation about two years ago,” Sanger said.  “It’s a very long process and it’s just really taking a hard look at what we’re doing. Our programming, our planning, our staffing, the physical layout of the building.

“Obviously, going into a new center we wanted it to become accredited. National Accreditation is a huge distinction. It can help with getting grants, and it would really set our center apart from other senior centers,” Sanger continued. “Johnson City is an accredited senior center so of course, we didn’t want them to have an award we didn’t have.”

Sanger added that aiming at such a goal while moving into a new facility was setting the bar quite high.

“It was a little ambitious … so at times it had to go on the shelf for a little bit but it could not have come about without the support of the town,” she said. “Bob (Browning) and Craig (Ford) were very involved. Alderman (Terry) Countermine was involved. Dr. Paul Stanton, the staff at the Senior Center and our Advisory Board.”

According to the official website of the National Council on Aging, the NISC “are committed to supporting and strengthening the nation’s 11,000 senior centers through best practices, professional development, advocacy, research and national standards and accreditation.”

The accreditation program was developed by the NISC using nine standards of excellence, which serve as a guide to improve all senior centers and their operations now and in the future.

In order to attain accreditation, all nine standards must be met.

“It’s really a self-reflection. It’s all about looking at the whole picture, not just one little aspect of it. Looking at all the categories and making sure that across the board you’re offering a whole comprehensive program,” Sanger said.

While attaining accreditation was a huge goal for the Jonesborough Senior Center, now that it has been achieved Sanger said the future has more goals to meet.

“We’re looking at continuing to expand. We launched MyRide in December and so we’re looking to continue to expand that program and then probably to continue outreach and do more and more things while we’re outreaching to our seniors who are homebound.”