For the fourth time since the designation was established at the turn of the century, Ashe Services for Aging has been certified among the state’s ‘Centers of Excellence.’
The designation comes from site reviews by the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services, University of North Carolina – CARES (Center for Aging Research and Educational Services), High Country Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, and Senior Tarheel Legislature delegate Clara Miller, among others.
The five-year, in-depth re-certification process was led by Ashe County Senior Center Director Louise Caudill and her staff, presented to ASA Executive Director Jane Banks. The center first earned the new designation in 2001, then again in 2004 and 2007. The three year process was extended to five years for the current certification.
“It’s a certification that we do provide above average so far as activities and classes we offer,” said Banks. “From merit to excellence, we have to maintain a high number of activities every month.”
“On the calendar every month you have to have 16 minimum activities, including evenings and weekends,” said Caudill. “We go far beyond that.”
“We have good participation,” Banks said. “Not just a high number of activities, but we offer things people are really interested in. All the traditional activities, but also more up-to-date type activities for young older adults.”
An example Banks mentioned is the computer lab available for those new seniors who have been used to computers on the job, and classes for those wishing to learn in order to keep in touch with family and friends in other areas.
The wide variety of classes and activities provide something for everyone, from bingo to crafting, from educational programs and intergenerational activities, to exercise and field trips, all part of this modern multipurpose senior center.
“We get letters, articles and newsletters from people who travel, who are retired and visit senior centers all over,” said Caudill. “They have said we are a model for the state if not the nation because of our services.”
Banks said that State Senior Center Consultant Judy Smith in her exit interview for the re-certification process said, “we were one of only a very few senior centers that provide all the services we offer like adult and child day care together, and with our assisted living center with memory care, we are probably the only one in the nation that offers all these services.”
One client in particular agrees.
“It’s the best,” said Don Welling, who with his wife Edna travel between North Carolina and the western states of Arizona and Oregon to visit children and relatives. They live in Florida in the winter and do their traveling in the warmer months.
“We’ve been to a lot of senior centers,” Welling said. “This is the best.” He especially praised the exercise program which helped him regain use of his arm that had been “frozen” to where he couldn’t raise it. He said he also enjoys the computer lab, and he and his wife help the center as trip coordinators.
ASA was founded in 1977, and is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The agency moved into its current facility in 1996, opened Ashe Senior Village next door in 2001 and Ashe Assisted Living and Memory Care on the hill above in 2011.
The first certification as ‘Center of Excellence’ in 2001 confirmed the facility and programs of Ashe Services for Aging a model for the state and subsequent re-certifications endorsed it as outstanding among its peers.
“This is a really big deal and we’re really proud of it,” said Banks in February 2001. “It proves that we’re providing exceptional services to the community, that the senior citizens of Ashe County can be assured that our center is one of the best in the state.”
The NC Division of Aging launched a new volunteer initiative during fiscal year 1998-99 designed to enhance the operation and programming of senior centers. With the help of a state task force, the division identified a model that all senior centers should achieve - Center of Merit - and a second model to which senior centers should aspire and grow - Center of Excellence. Ashe was the first in Region D to achieve the Center of Excellence certification. It means the center demonstrates best practices in outreach and access to services, programs and activities, planning, evaluation, and input from older adults, staffing, operations and physical plant. Centers of Excellence receive approximately triple general purpose funding above centers that are uncertified and double above Centers of Merit.
Learn more at www.ncdhhs.gov/aging/index.htm or call Ashe Senior Center at 246-4347 or 246-2461.