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Senior centers receive grants to offer new opportunities

Bill Conallen

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has awarded $2 million in grant funding to enhance senior community centers across the Commonwealth. This funding has been awarded annually for more than 10 years to help enrich senior center services for older Pennsylvanians and to promote active, healthy aging in the community. Six locations in Philadelphia have received grants to strengthen their offerings to the city’s older adults.

“Amid the celebration of National Senior Center Month in September, we are thrilled that many of the 28 senior community centers and satellite meal sites that are supported by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), will receive the Department of Aging grant, which serves as a sign of progress for our older adult population,” said Esther Lee, PCA’s assistant director of community engagement, who oversees the management of PCA-supported senior centers. “This grant’s significance cannot be overstated, as it paves the way for our senior centers to embark on a transformative journey. With these funds, we are poised to enhance our health and wellness programs, create enriching intergenerational experiences, and strengthen our commitment to fostering lasting connections within the communities we serve.”

For several of the centers that received grants, a portion of the funds will be used to enhance health and wellness programs. At Southwest Senior Center and North Philadelphia’s Martin Luther King Older Adult Center, planned initiatives include wellness workshops and exercise classes tailored to the specific needs of older adults.

“As we embrace this opportunity, we are reinvigorated in our mission to support our beloved older adults in their pursuit of holistic aging and independence,” said Paulette Cunningham, director of PCA’s Southwest Senior Center. “Together, with the support of this grant, we will continue to build a vibrant and inclusive environment where every older adult can thrive and live an enriched life that is defined by dignity.”

To celebrate the diversity and individuality of their older adult participants, South Philadelphia’s St. Edmonds Senior Community Center intends to use part of the grant to host special events and cultural celebrations throughout the year. These events will focus on empowering older adults to embrace holistic aging and independence, while also nurturing a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the community.

Southwest Philadelphia’s Star Harbor Senior Community Center plans to introduce several new classes, including art, music, dance and technology, to cater to diverse interests and promote continuous learning and engagement. Recognizing the importance of combating social isolation, increased programming may provide an avenue for seeking advice, sharing experiences, and accessing valuable resources.

Several centers have also decided to allocate a portion of the grant funding to improve their facility amenities. At West Philadelphia Senior Community Center and North Central Philadelphia’s Mann Older Adult Center, improvements may include upgrades to dedicated spaces for group exercise classes, including yoga, tai chi and aerobics, which provide older Philadelphians with activities that improve flexibility, balance and overall wellness.

“PCA is unwavering in its commitment to crafting senior centers that foster an atmosphere of acceptance that acknowledges and celebrates the diversity within our communities,” Lee said.

To learn more about Philadelphia’s senior community centers, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040 or visit

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