Walking through the doors of Norris Square Senior Community Center, members are welcomed with a flurry of activity, a collection of friendly faces, and a buzz of conversation. Nestled in a mostly Spanish-speaking community, the center is the gathering spot for local seniors and is full of energy and vitality.
Norris Square Senior Community Center is the foundation of a support network among the seniors of the neighborhood, where friendships and socialization are a key reason seniors come to the center. Ernesto sits with a group of men playing dominoes. He is relatively new to Philadelphia, having moved here from the Bronx only three years ago. The center is where he began to make new friendships, coming five days a week to play dominoes, cards and billiards. Carmen has been coming to the center for eleven years and says, “I would be bored if the center wasn’t here.” Maribel sits at a table with five of her friends. She describes how they come together every day to talk, sharing life’s joys and frustrations, supporting one another. This interconnectedness reaches beyond the walls of the center through the center’s Love and Friendship committee. Comprised of six center members who are elected every year, the committee works to bring love and friendship to the sick and homebound members of the center, helping them to stay connected to their network of support.
The Senior Community Centers of Catholic Health Care Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, are opening doors to friendship and social networks across the city to thousands of seniors. Combating social isolation is a crucial component of the centers’ goal to encourage healthy aging. Seniors that feel isolated are less likely to seek preventative health care and more likely to experience chronic physical and mental health issues. By bringing seniors together and offering them opportunities to form support networks, Catholic Health Care Services is playing a vital role in maintaining the wellbeing and improving the quality of life of seniors in our centers.