As part of our Day in the Life series, Rose Richardson, executive director for the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center shares how her day is shaped to help members and staff have a successful and meaningful time .

My day usually starts early in the morning. Today I got in around 6:30 so we could prepare breakfast for the members that were going on a trip. we always want to make sure they have something in their stomachs before they leave.

On a normal day, I usually get in and the first thing I do is walk around the building and check every room to make sure everything is set up for that morning’s programs. After that, I’ll check my e-mails to stay on top of things. We have a kitchen here, so I’ll also check in with the team in the kitchen to make sure they have everything they need for both breakfast and lunch. We have a great team that improvises really well if we run out of something.

Members often show up as early as 8:00 am. I’ll usually open The Center and work the front desk to greet them and help them sign in. The one thing I always tell my staff is to ‘treat every member as if we may be the only smile they see all day.’ That rule applies from the moment we open. I really enjoy being able to say hello to them first thing in the morning.

I’ll usually go back into my office before 9:00. Then, I meet with Julia Diggs, our program coordinator, to discuss the day’s activities and upcoming events. I’ll also meet with The Center’s counselor to discuss any cases she is managing. From there, I’ll check in with our In-Home Support Program (IHSP) about what they’re doing. IHSP serves as an incredibly positive resource for the older adults we serve. A lot of them may be isolated or managing significant challenges, whether they are physical or financial.

Our IHSP staff works very hard to make sure we’re meeting the needs of their program participants. For example, a participant may need a new refrigerator, or we may need to contact a contractor to complete some home repairs. In order to get these things done, we utilize discretionary spending, which requires a lot of paperwork, especially as IHSP is required to get two bids for each project or purchase.

Members usually continue to arrive throughout the morning.  We’ll be packed for classes and programs at around 10:00 and I’ll go out into our main area, called the Atrium, to say hello to everyone. This is my favorite part of the job. I try to give our members as much time as I can, whether it’s talking to them about things involving The Center or their personal life. For me, it’s important that they feel listened to.

In addition to the programs we offer, The Center also invites vendors to come in as a service to our members. The vendors range in services and products. For example, we have a man that comes in to sell shoes for people with diabetes, a woman who sells cakes, and we even have some staff from the local dollar store who bring products so we save the seniors a trip. Since Julia Diggs is on a trip today and we have a vendor coming in, I’ll make sure they’re all set up and have what they need.

Throughout the day, when I have the opportunity, I’ll focus on completing paperwork, which covers several areas. One of the areas that is so important is writing applications for funding. This can be a lengthy process and I’m really grateful to have the support of people at Liberty Lutheran and here at The Center. The other aspects include writing reports to demonstrate we’re in compliance or to earn accreditations from outside organizations.

On a normal day, The Center closes at 4:30 pm, and I’ll probably be here with staff until 5:30 to 6:00 in the evening either completing paperwork, planning for a trip or major event, or setting up for the morning programs and breakfast. This also includes preparing for our weekend events, which I usually attend.

Today, because we have a trip, I need to make sure that the SEPTA bus services shows up in the evening to take our members home. If they see the lights out in The Center, they’ll stop the route. Because our groups get back late, such as today, I’ll probably be here until they arrive home to make sure everyone gets their ride.

I have been in the senior services industry for over 25 years. I am so happy to be at The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center. Throughout my career I’ve worked to make sure that I’m meeting and anticipating the needs of older adults, especially those who may be underserved. I’m very thankful to have a great team that enhances the quality of life of our members. That’s incredibly important for the community we’re in. It’s absolutely rewarding and gratifying.

To learn more about The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, please visit LibertyLutheran.org/west-philadelphia-senior-community-center.

For more information about our In-Home Support Program, please visit LibertyLutheran.org/lcfs-in-home-support-program.

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