Rhawnhurst NORC Expects to Serve At Least 50 Percent More Older Adults in Year Ahead

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Over the past year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Rhawnhurst NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) served approximately 1,100 adults ages 60 and older living in Northeast Philadelphia’s 19111, 19149 and 19152 ZIP codes.

Over the past year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Rhawnhurst NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) served approximately 1,100 adults ages 60 and older living in Northeast Philadelphia’s 19111, 19149 and 19152 ZIP codes.
Also during this past year, the NORC began tracking the number of calls for help from seniors in the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods that were not being served by the NORC. “We were aware of an increasing number of calls, mainly from people who had been served by another program that closed down and didn’t know where else to turn. Others were simply unaware that we did not provide services in their neighborhood,” said Abby Gilbert, NORC program manager.
What the NORC found: Last year alone they received requests from or on behalf of 500 senior households outside their service zone. While they referred the callers to other appropriate programs, they were not able to provide those individuals with the vital home maintenance and transportation services the NORC was providing to older adults in lower Northeast Philadelphia. This year, all that will change.
The solution: A three-year grant funded by the Bernard and Etta Weinberg Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia allows for the NORC to add one more outreach worker and for materials to support additional services. The NORC outreach staff will work with older adults in the new ZIP codes, 19114, 19115 and 19116 and also our traditional service areas.
“There’s a huge need for the services here,” said Brian Gralnick, director of the Jewish Federation’s Center for Social Responsibility. “This was a natural progression for us, to expand to serve the rest of Northeast Philadelphia. This expansion reaffirms our commitment to caring for the residents of Northeast Philadelphia.”
“Northeast Philadelphia continues to be a neighborhood densely populated by older adults who are aging in place,” Gilbert said. “Many of them don’t have the resources, or don’t even know what to ask for, to remain living safely in their homes, many of which were built 70 or 80 years ago and require more and more attention. The Rhawnhurst NORC can now provide our vital services to this entire area of the city.
“We are doubling our outreach staff, and doubling the area we serve,” continued Gilbert, who conservatively anticipates helping 500 new client households in the coming year, though estimates it will likely be many more.
According to Gilbert, the fact that the grant is for three years versus a shorter period of time is critical to the NORC’s success in serving the three new ZIP codes. “We need three years to get fully established in these neighborhoods, do a fuller assessment of their needs and provide a continuity of services.”
Now the NORC will have an outreach coordinator and the new outreach worker, both of whom will conduct site visits to determine the clients’ needs, then connect them with the appropriate support, which could include home repairs, chore assistance, transportation to medical appointments and grocery shopping, friendly visits, socialization programs, meal assistance and referrals to other programs.
Gilbert emphasized the importance of having two outreach staff members, so that the NORC can respond immediately to emergency requests whenever possible. “Our clients have lots of needs that emerge unexpectedly, like a beeping smoke detector or a burned-out light bulb in their only bathroom. Now, if one of our staff is out, we will have coverage.”
The NORC is seeking volunteers to deliver grocery orders, make minor home repairs, lead monthly interest groups and call homebound clients each week. If you would like to volunteer for the Rhawnhurst NORC or refer an older adult to the program,
please contact Abby Gilbert at 215-320-0351 or agilbert@jfgp.org, or visit jewishphilly.org/norc.

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