In 2014, 74-year-old Jessie suffered a severe heart attack and knew that recovery would require resilience and commitment.
Fortunately, Jessie was a member of LCFS’ West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (WPSCC), a beloved neighborhood hub that helps to improve the lives of older adults through a wide range of social services and life enrichment programs.
As a member, Jessie had already been taking advantage of some of the offerings provided by the Center. But, after the heart attack, she significantly stepped up her game. “I started to take the Center’s nutrition class every Monday and eat the nutritional meals they serve for lunch each day. In the last two years, I’ve lost 61 pounds!,” she says.
Jessie says she doesn’t know if she’d be here today if she hadn’t suffered the heart attack. It was an eye-opener that inspired positive changes in her life—many of which WPSCC helped her make through education and healthy eating.
Grants Help to Transform Health
A variety of generous grants enable the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center to provide programs that empower Jessie and hundreds of other older adults—many whom suffer from food insecurity and poor nutrition—to transform their health.
Most critically, the programs bring to West Philadelphia seniors a cornucopia of fresh, nutritious foods that many cannot access themselves, while teaching them how to prepare these foods to optimize health.
“The focus of our programs is healthy eating, healthy living, healthy choice, and portion control,” says Helen Rayon, WPSCC’s Health and Wellness Coordinator. “A majority of seniors have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or hypertension so we try to re-purpose old recipes to make them healthier recipes.”
The corps of healthy eating and nutrition programs includes healthy cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes, allocation of bagged breakfast meals, distribution of fresh produce and other food staples, and provision of emergency food vouchers.
Donor Dollars Make a Lasting Impact
All of these essential programs could not operate without the support of several charitable organizations, including $44,000 in grant dollars from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust, $7,500 from Bank of America, and $3,250 from the Sara Long Trust.
The generosity of these funders is making a critical impact among one of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations. “WPSCC is proud to boast that so many members talk about positive change. One lady was almost shouting praises because her latest medical exam showed vast improvement as a result of her eating habits and the classes she’s been taking,” says Helen.
Jessie readily concurs. “WPSCC is an excellent place. Its nutrition class and lunches really helped me. And, there’s a lot of support from the instructors,” she says.
About the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center
Currently, WPSCC serves more than 4,000 seniors throughout West Philadelphia. More than 90% of the Center’s members and clients cope with severe economic challenges, and for many, their only hot meal of the day comes from WPSCC. The Center’s many vital educational and recreational activities, health and wellness programs, and social services are made possible by funds from the Philadelphia Corporation of Aging, Pennsylvania Department of Aging, and other generous donors. For more information about WPSCC, visit westphilaseniorcenter.org.