After more than a year of preparation, the Hanover Township Senior Center has received national accreditation.
The center earned the designation from the National Institute of Senior Centers in July, making it the first township-run senior center -- and only the sixth center in Illinois -- to gain accreditation.
Located at 240 S. Route 59 in Bartlett, the center offers various social, recreational and transportation services for people ages 55 and older living in the township.
Barbara Kurth Schuldt, director of senior services for Hanover Township, said the accreditation shows residents the standard of excellence at the center and reflects the great progress it has made in recent years.
"We've come from a small senior center in the back of the administration building to passing a referendum to build this new building and to offering services to people that are really needed," she said, adding that in the future she hopes the center will start an endowment fund that people can contribute to and that it will continue to encourage more community involvement.
A center can only receive accreditation if it meets nine standards set by the National Institute of Senior Centers in various categories, ranging from fiscal management to programming.
The institute stated on its website that some strengths of the Hanover Township Senior Center include its beauty and location next to senior living apartments; its large number of regular volunteers; and its having the township's community health department located inside the building. The presence of internal and external self-assessment committees was also praised by the institute.
"What we hear most from seniors is that the senior center really becomes the focal point for them, especially those that have lost their spouse," said Hanover Township supervisor Brian McGuire. "It becomes a center for their recreation; it becomes the center for their community involvement ... and it also, on a social services end, gives them a resource for accessing other programs."
McGuire said the township will continue to improve the center.
"The standard that we set -- it's never good enough," he said. "You always have to strive to be better."
A formal recognition ceremony for the center's accreditation will be held in October.