Case Study

Creating Space for Connections

Center in the Park

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Center in the Park (CIP) is a non-profit community center located in the heart of Germantown Avenue in NW Philadelphia. CIP is located in a former Carnegie library and provides programs and services to foster positive aging for older adults in the local community. The organization is recognized for programs that address the intersections of age, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, and socioeconomic status.

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The Need: To develop a well-designed and welcoming space for senior adults to relax and socialize outside scheduled program activities.

The Opportunity: The introduction of Self Directed Volunteer Teams as a means of engaging volunteers to address important issues at CIP coincided with an AARP grant to facilitate community connections at the facility.

Team goals

Prompted by an AARP Challenge grant and guided by SDV Network coaches, a team of six volunteers formed an SDV Team and formulated their plan for how best to help CIP address their need by re-purposing 600sq ft of unused space into a “Golden Age Café”. The café/lounge was to be ready in sixty days and available to CIP members, their guests and the public. The team goals were to:

  • Provide a comfortable space intentionally designed to promote socialization.
  • Establish community connections with local restaurants/businesses.
  • Create an independent source of income to support CIP.
  • Pilot appropriate staffing and hours in the café and identify next-steps for a follow up SDV Team project.

The Final Results:

  • Impact on Volunteers: “It was a fulfilling experience working as part of a team to get such important work done.”  -Volunteer

  • Impact on the Community: The CIP Golden Age Café provides an inviting space for visitors, members, staff and guests to meet and relax. The introduction of a Café in a Senior Center is a benchmark practice to combat isolation and loneliness in local communities. 
  •  Impact on the Agency: The Café/lounge has added to the aesthetics at CIP, increased the number of older adult program participants and created an independent source of income to support CIP.

Key Staff Person, Erika Barber, says, “We accomplished what we set out to do. The biggest challenge was working with a strict funder and having to have everything completed in a short period of time. The SDV Team process made it work! We are most proud of how the team remained motivated – each person had a say in the group and the volunteers have a sense of ownership and pride in the Café/lounge space.”

SDV Teams: A researched, structured, evidence-informed approach to volunteer engagement where volunteers plan the work and work the plan! A team-based, project-focused, outcomes-driven model.

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Case Study

Creating Space for Connections

Center in the Park

Back to case studies
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