In January, 1999, my congregation sent me to Kansas city for a four day leadership training session led by Dr. Elbert Cole, founder of the Shepherd's Center of America. I can say it was a life changing experience. Dr. Cole, a retired Methodist minister,was the most dynamic man I ever met. During my training he was 82, but more energetic than many men half his age. I have often said the training sessions was as good in the last hour on Friday as the first hour on Tuesday. This from someone who has attended many seminars and training sessions in both academia and the business world, I assure you is high praise.
Our Shepherd's Center of Webster/Kirkwood celebrated it 15th year last month. SCA provides vital support to us and the other Shepherd's Centers throughout the country
Dr. Cole's goals for the Shepherd's Centers were LIFE ENRICHMENT (learning), LIFE MAINTENANCE (independence), LIFE REORGANIZATION (health & exercise) and CELEBRATION (acknowledge events with meaning & purpose).
As a nation we have always celebrated youth. The vast majority of today's seniors (85%) are in relatively good health and vigorous. Society has tended to ignore this population, focusing on the senile and decrepit. The work of SCA is vitally important. Aging is an opportunity, not a problem. The mission of SCA is to change America's view on aging - to recognize the value of an aging population. The genius of the program is that it is a ministry being done by older adult volunteers rather than a ministry to them.
Board Member, Shepherd's Center of Webster/Kirkwood
America needs more Shepherd's Center and SCA can help this to happen.
It is exciting to see how Shepherd Centers of America has grown. I was in on the beginnings and helped Rev. Cole in the training of new Center Directors. My expertise was in Volunteer Management. Today SCA and its many member centers are excellent examples of Dr. Cole's dream for Seniors to have meaningful opportunities for volunteering and life-long learning through our many Shepherd's Centers.
Past National SCA President 10-23-2013
In the future, aging "successfully" will include those of us who remain vital, engaged citizens in our senior years. For Shepherd's Centers of America, the future is now--and has been for 40 years plus--as it encourages its local Centers to promote and enable volunteering among its older adult members. The result is a large and growing community of aging individuals who contribute (and receive) great benefit from continuing to give of themselves.
Shepherd's Centers of America was a forerunner in the field of meaningful aging. Beginning with one center in a small neighborhood in Kansas City...the vision of a Methodist minister and older adults in the community soon evolved into a national presence. This community was dedicated to involving older adults in volunteerism while helping others in their neighborhoods remain in their homes. It was a simple concept that the rest of the world now sees as essential to the cycle of everyone's lives. "Living a life that matters" is the mantra of all of the 60 Shepherd's Centers in the United States as well as many other organizations that now recognize that older adults with their wealth of experiences and wisdom are an invaluable resource to communities everywhere. One of the main focuses of Shepherd's Centers of America is sharing what these 60 communities have learned and help to start other centers so that older adults may continue to live meaningful lives through education and volunteerism.
SCA was a pioneer in the field of aging over 35 years ago. The vision to capture the experience, wisdom and volunteer capacity of older adults was 20 years ahead of its time. Now, 58 active centers are in the network. Survey data from across the network shows a projected impact which includes:
• 42,000 older adults are being helped through informal caregiving services including transportation, home repairs, visitation, etc.
• Over 36,800 older adults participate in Adventures in Learning - an excellent life-long learning program
• Over 8,500 active volunteers donated in excess of 375,000 hours of service in their communities
• Estimated value of services exceeds $8,300,000, based on the Independent Sector’s value for volunteer time