In a historic brownstone building at 1438 N. Broad St., merely blocks away from the heart of Temple’s bustling campus, a small group of senior citizens quietly bow their heads in prayer as their hour-long morning services come to a conclusion.
The sound of Al Green’s voice is heard coming through the speakers of a radio, soon after the group says “Amen.” The chatter of more than 30 men and women over the age of 65 begins to fill the room.
Each day, roughly 70 senior citizens participate in various activities, receive a well-balanced lunch and enjoy the simple delights of camaraderie and companionship at the North Broad Street Senior Center.
The center has remained at its current location since the mid ‘80s, but has served senior citizens in North Philadelphia since “sometime during the mid ‘60s,” said J. Frank Levister, the director of outreach and in-home support for the center.
The outreach program operates under the North City Congress, a non-profit organization that receives its funding from both the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
“It’s a good center,” said Inez Moore, 70, who has been spending her days there for nearly seven years.
Moore is a PCA volunteer. She aids fellow seniors with the daily sign-in on a computer, which is one of many initiatives the center has recently taken in order to help the seniors keep up with rapidly changing technology.
Health Partners, another local non-profit organization that supports the area’s Medicare population, sponsors a free word processing program for beginners. The course teaches the seniors how to operate a computer and simple Internet instruction.
The organization also sponsors a course for those who suffer from the long-term effects of illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. The course shows each participant how to search the Internet for medical information concerning his or her disease.
PCA Web site and graphic design manager Crystal Davenport instructs a more advanced Internet course that teaches members more advanced Internet skills, Web site navigation, e-mail and blogging.
In addition to computer education, classes pertaining to subjects like physical therapy, nutrition and depression are also offered. Health screenings for ailments such as high blood pressure are also available.
For NCC, caring for senior citizens extends well beyond the activities and services offered at 1438 N.
The in-home support program supplies home-delivered meals and provides aides to assist seniors with everyday tasks such as shopping and cleaning.
Levister estimates that 500 people in the North Philadelphia area currently benefit from these services, nearly all of which are free.
Like most of the seniors, Margaret Stevenson, 79, enjoys the more leisurely side of the services offered daily by the center.
Stevenson, whose favorite activities include bingo and choir, said she has continued to visit the North Broad Senior Center for the past three years in order to “get away from home, to talk to people, to keep morale up and just be happy.”
Arts and crafts, pinochle, dramatic arts and a Nintendo Wii are also provided to keep the seniors busy from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Line-dancing, a favorite activity, seems to be one of the most popular activities among the female members of the center.
“I didn’t know anything about line-dancing [before visiting the center],” Nettie English said. English said she has developed a passion for line-dancing since first visiting the center nearly 10 years ago.
“We try to do a lot of things to keep us moving,” Moore said.
She added that the center makes a difference in the lives of those who participate in the many activities and services that it provides.
Levister said the center always needs student volunteers to assist with its computer instruction courses, the creation of its monthly newsletter and of course, simply playing games with the seniors.
Chelsea Calhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.