Stay home, seniors.
No, that’s not a warning for the older generation to keep to themselves and stay out of other people’s business. On the contrary, it’s a statement of love.
Thanks to the efforts of the newly renamed Northeast Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) — formerly Rhawnhurst NORC, which has expanded its base of operations to include three additional ZIP codes in the upper Northeast — more seniors than ever will be able to remain in their homes.
They’ll no longer have to leave for a retirement or assisted-living community simply because they can’t change a light bulb or shovel their own snow.
“Those may seem like simple tasks, but that is how they get to stay in their homes,” said Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia CEO Naomi Adler, prior to cutting the ribbon at Northeast NORC’s new facility at 8546B Bustleton Ave. “That’s why they don’t have to go into an institution before their time for medical reasons.
“Eighty-eight percent of NORC clients report the services they receive help them feel safer and actually make them feel they can remain in their homes.
“Moving the NORC to a storefront location was a sensitive but good community engagement experience. This location has allowed us to offer people more services. That’s very exciting for us.”
It took about 18 months to come together. The end result is that the NORC is now able to assist 1,600 seniors by adding ZIP codes 19114, 19115 and 19116 to its coverage base. Only 1,100 were served before.
“That’s a pretty fast turnaround,” said NORC Program Manager Abby Gilbert, who coordinated everything. “We got a grant from the Bernard and Etta Weinberg Fund [which supports projects in senior services and geriatric counseling], which allowed us to expand our services.
“We were getting calls prior to the submission for the grant from people who knew the good work of the Rhawnhurst NORC. They were desperate for the kind of assistance we’d been providing in the lower Northeast for their friends and relatives living in the upper Northeast. We tracked those calls, and saw we needed additional space.”
Not only have Oxford Circle, Castor Gardens and Mayfair been added to the list, but so have additional staff and volunteers — many of whom will make home visits to help with those invaluable little tasks.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-District 172) said backing the program in Harrisburg was important. “I’ve been supportive in Harrisburg through letter-writing and lobbying the Appropriations Committee to make sure this grant went through,” he said. “They have a proven track record of success, and organizations like this need to be supported by government.
“In many ways, they’re taking on a lot of the responsibility that has traditionally fallen on government. So we need to support them with dollars, because to run anything properly needs funds.”
And Philadelphia City Councilman Al Taubenberger said younger generations can learn a thing or two from these seniors.
“Programs that can keep seniors in their homes are key for the community,” said the
63-year-old Taubenberger, the former longtime president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. “With that comes a sense of history. To have that intergenerational dialogue can be very valuable, which I know firsthand.”
NORC going full-throttle throughout the Northeast will make that kind of experience possible for others.
“It’s a huge task and its takes real leadership to make it a success,” Taubenberger said. “I’m confident Abby can and will make it a success because of her passion.”
NORC services are available to Jews and non-Jews alike.
“Yes, it’s based off Jewish values,” Boyle said, “but it’s an organization that 100 percent doesn’t exclude anyone, and I’ve referred many non-Jews to this organization. We need to take care of these people in their golden years.”
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0729