Senior Services expanding local program

Published 9:19 am Saturday, August 1, 2009

SUFFOLK—Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia plans to expand its award-winning affiliates program into Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County, the organization has announced.

The program gives area residents one-stop access to information about Senior Services’ programs, services and resources through community partners. The program enlists community organizations such as churches to host volunteers, who set up hours at the location for people who need information on senior services.

The program, which already exists in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, garnered national recognition this month from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The organization received the Aging Innovation and Achievement Award at a presentation in Minneapolis.

“The idea of this is to bring the outreach closer down to the community level where possible,” Mike Knepler, a spokesman for Senior Services, said. “It’s just another portal to make people feel more comfortable in their community as they seek services for themselves or for aging relatives.”

In the areas currently served by the affiliates program, 28 churches and two community organizations partner with Senior Services to provide the program. Community organizations in the Western Tidewater communities targeted for expansion will be contacted in the near future or can volunteer to be affiliates.

“Through them, we are able to multiply our efforts to share information with the community and connect more people with the services they need,” John Skirven, CEO of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, said in a press release.

Senior Services partnered with the Norfolk Department of Human Services in 2002 to create The Center for Aging, a network of human service agencies that work together to meet the special needs of seniors throughout the region. In May 2008, Senior Services launched the affiliates program as a new approach to neighborhood-based outreach.

In the last nine months, about 1,760 people have received information about Senior Services through the affiliates, including more than 10,000 informational publications distributed, 71 group presentations and 24 referrals for services made.

When a church or community group is contacted to be a partner, the organization designates volunteers, who are given two half-day training sessions, where they meet staff, learn about programs and services and receive a resource guide. After the training, the organization hosts a kickoff celebration to introduce the program to its members and neighbors.

Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia already provides services in Suffolk including transportation, meals, and the senior center located at 110 W. Finney Ave., inside the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. For more information, visit or call 925-1449.