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Community Development Featured Seniors

Engaging Your Senior Population


According to U.S. census data, senior citizens make up 14.9% of the population. Not having specific programs for this group means missing out on helping the lives of many of your members.

The East Valley JCC in Chandler, Arizona, schedules several programs throughout the week to engage their senior population.

“On Mondays, we have a free Mahjongg group that is open to the community,” said Leisah Woldoff, the director of communications for the East Valley JCC. “Other classes have included Yiddish music, painting and genealogy. Our CEO, who is a rabbi, offers lifecycle services, such as counseling, hospital visits and officiating at funerals.”

On Tuesdays, the JCC offers educational and social programs for seniors. These include an Arts & Culture series that features local authors, artists, musicians and docents from the Phoenix Art Museum.

Thursdays are reserved for their Open Beit Midrash, an adult learning program that includes classes, speakers, films and a kosher lunch.

“Additionally, one Sunday each month, the JCC offers a free Israeli film screening, and their ‘Our Ladles of Love’ program helps seniors in need by providing a free meal delivered to their home,” said Woldoff.

An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to senior programming is being able to adapt to their needs. The East Valley JCC noticed many of their seniors have difficulty driving at night, so they adapted their senior programming to be during the daytime. This can also help seniors help fight feeling isolated by creating a community in their classes. Additionally, if seniors have difficulty registering online, staff members can help them with it.

If your facility is looking to engage the senior population more, Woldoff has three tips to keep in mind:

  1. Listen to their requests and concerns to see how you can best serve them.
  2. Offer programming that interests them.
  3. When scheduling programming, keep in mind things like time of day to make it easier for seniors to attend.


Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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