Key Takeaways

  • The Morrisville Senior Servicenter, located in a rural part of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has a unique partnership with PathStone that helps link older adults to job training and career placement.

  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) can help senior centers fill staffing needs by matching them with trained and motivated mature workers.

  • The Morrisville Senior Servicenter has six SCSEP workers thanks to the valuable partnership with PathStone.  

Located in a rural part of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Morrisville Senior Servicenter is the community’s focal point for activities, information, and services for older adults and their families. And the center also has a unique partnership that helps link older adults to job training and career placement.

The center, open to people age 55 and older in the Morrisville area, prides itself on offering a safe environment that promotes social interaction and hosts educational and recreational opportunities, while being sensitive to the unique needs of local older adults.

What is the history of the Morrisville Senior Servicenter?

The Morrisville Senior Servicenter was established in 1976 when a small group of individuals realized a critical need for a place where older adults could gather and help one another. The founders envisioned a place where older adults could find camaraderie to support one another, activities to stay engaged, trips to broaden their horizons, and a place they could call their own, which at the time was an old high school.

While the programs and services have changed with the times, the center is pleased to carry on the traditions of their founders and give older adults a home away from home.

A powerful employment partnership

One important and unique aspect of the Morrisville Senior Servicenter is their partnership with PathStone, a private, not-for-profit community development and human service organization. PathStone, which is located in seven states and Puerto Rico, is a workforce development leader delivering career and employment services that enhance the skills, performance, and potential of individuals. They help people across the age spectrum find meaningful employment in desired career pathways.

PathStone in Pennsylvania is a subgrantee for NCOA’s Department of Labor Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) contract. PathStone has developed a longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership with the Morrisville Senior Servicenter to provide training and employment opportunities for people age 55 and over to work at the senior center.

How can SCSEP benefit senior centers?

Created in 1965, SCSEP is the nation’s only program to help low-income, unemployed people age 55+ find work. In addition to helping mature workers with job placement, SCSEP helps older adults find financial stability, ultimately leading to better health and quality of life. SCSEP is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and serves nearly every county in the nation. NCOA manages 24 SCSEP offices throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments with a range of nonprofit organizations, such as senior centers and other aging network providers. Participants build skills and self-confidence, while earning a modest income. For many SCSEP participants, the experience leads to permanent employment.

Many older adults continue to work into retirement, often out of financial necessity. But for some it's an absolute necessity. To be eligible for SCSEP, individuals must be 55 or older, unemployed, and living on a family income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level.

The SCSEP benefits senior centers across the country by matching them with trained and motivated mature workers who often fill staffing gaps.

Staffing concerns have become more problematic during the pandemic as staff retention and finding new staff members are increasingly challenging for senior centers in most parts of the country. SCSEP can in part address these challenges. Visit the Older Worker Program Finder site to learn about SCSEP locations near your senior center.

In addition, senior center staff can refer participants looking for employment opportunities to SCSEP, which is a role the Morrisville Senior Servicenter has played as well. Because senior center staff have a deep understanding of those they serve, they know when people need additional income or are looking for the stimulation that can come from working regularly.

Kathy Shiley: An SCSEP success story

Kathy Shiley and Tracy Thompson
Kathy Shiley, left, and Tracy Thompson

Kathy Shiley was enrolled in PathStone’s SCSEP in 2016 and was assigned to train at the Morrisville Senior Servicenter. She learned about SCSEP when she accompanied her mother, who was in need of socialization, to the center. Shiley says she feels like she just walked into the opportunity at a time when she needed to work.

When first assigned, Shiley's training consisted of greeting people in-person and over the phone, assisting the center manager and other personnel, as well as helping with numerous events (including an evening bingo), which are held every week, and are successful in helping to raise thousands of dollars for the center. She gained knowledge on how to use various office computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel and email. Through the acquisition of these skills and increased knowledge of the center’s operation, she became a valuable part of the center’s team.

As a result of the experience she gained through SCSEP and value she provided, Shiley was hired directly by the Morrisville Senior Servicenter as Administrative Assistant in 2019. In her current capacity, she has numerous responsibilities such as providing administrative support to the manager, and coordinating the center’s fundraising programs, such as a craft fair, flea market, and hall rentals. She administers the Co-Pilot computer program, which tracks daily attendance and volunteer hours, and oversees a food voucher distribution program. In all that she does, her love for the people served by the center shines through to everyone. Shiley also benefits from all the senior center programs and loves to participate in as much as possible. Now 66 years of age, she has no plans to retire. She loves her job!

“Over the course of several years, Kathy has certainly made a significant contribution to the senior center and the people they serve," says Fran McKenna, director of PathStone in Bradford, Pennsylvania. "We are proud of what she has accomplished and how she has grown in workplace abilities and organizational knowledge.”

How is the Morrisville Senior Servicenter funded, and how does SCSEP help?

Morrisville Senior Servicenter is funded, in part, under a contract with the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, through a grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Bucks County Commissioners. This funding provides about 40% of the support needed by the center. Other support is generated through many fundraising activities organized by Servicenter staff and volunteers, such as the car show described below. Even with these efforts, they have staffing gaps and are able to address them through a partnership with PathStone and SCSEP.

The Morrisville Senior Servicenter has six SCSEP workers performing a variety of functions including cooking, cleaning, greeting, and administrative tasks. The center’s interim manager and bookkeeper, Tracy Thompson, considers the partnership with PathStone, “a huge win for us."

Without the program, we would have such a void. We want all the SCSEP workers to stay.”  

These workers are tremendously valuable to the senior center, and Thompson has found the Morrisville Senior Servicecenter provides the employees a place where they feel needed, can add value, and are part of a team.

What do people do at Morrisville Senior Servicenter?

Like many senior centers, the Morrisville Senior Servicenter offers an array of programs and services including congregate and grab and go meals, recreational activities, social events, health and wellness offerings including Tai Chi, “Strength and Stretch,” and pilates, interest groups, and a place to engage in hobbies. Day trips are arranged throughout the year as well as other exciting activities. Approximately 300 older adults attend the center on an annual basis, with 20-40 attending daily activities.

Some of the center's many offerings:

  • Digital literacy: Computer classes are offered at Servicenter, taught by college students. These classes originated when the Morrisville Senior Servicenter received a grant pre-pandemic to pilot a computer skills development program for older adults in Bucks County. Shiley was trained to teach the program and enjoys sharing her knowledge and skills with others; she especially likes Excel and now uses it all the time.
  • Dine Around: Shiley helps to organize the Dine Around events that take place at local restaurants and keep older adults connected, while supporting local businesses.
  • Nutrition: Snipes, a farm also located in Morrisville, delivers 45 bags of fresh produce to the senior center every two weeks. These bags and helpful recipes are distributed to older adults in need. Local Giant grocery stores also donates food for low income older adults. In addition, Jefferson Health provides a 6-week nutrition class led by a registered dietician that teaches older adults to read food labels and how prepare nutritious meals. 
  • Annual car show: The Bucks County Stangz holds their annual Car Show at the senior center. Dozens of classic cars are on hand and prizes are awarded to the winners. The 2022 event raised over $2,000 for Morrisville Senior Servicenter!
  • Drag Queen Bingo is a fun and popular annual fundraiser that recognizes the diversity among the older adult population and across generations.
  • Holiday events: Every year the senior center hosts a Winter Parade and a “Christmas Gala” and  also works with PathStone to help identify older people who need clothes, bedding, towels, and health and beauty aids. These items are delivered to seniors and provide much cheer to many isolated older adults.
  • Summer Extravaganza: The community-wide talent show takes place at Morrisville Senior Servicenter each summer with older adults contributing their talents to the show, including a senior ballerina! Local businesses support the event and cash prizes are given to the winners.

Still not a member of the National Institute for Senior Centers? Join today, membership is free.

If your center has engaged in a recent study or assessment, we’d love to hear about it. And if you haven't already, we'd encourage you to join the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC). Free to all senior centers (and their personnel), NISC supports senior centers with best practices and innovations in programming, as well as networking and training opportunities. Ask for help, leverage NISC resources, or share your successes like the Morrisville Senior Servicenter. Find out how you can become a NISC Affiliate today.

The week of Sept. 18-24 is National Employ Older Workers Week. Learn more about the Department of Labor's annual celebration. You can follow NCOA on Instagram to read more SCSEP success stories. 

Photo of Morrisville Senior Servicenter staff courtesy Morrisville Senior Servicenter