Seniors in Alexandria can soon return for wellness programming, hot meals and social services at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington’s St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony debuting a $44,00 renovation performed while the Center was vacated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the last 45 years, we’ve continuously served Alexandria City’s underserved, elderly, and retired community through regular social programming, wellness classes and hot, nutritious daily meals. Until COVID, the center served up to 55 people a day. Our seniors have been feeling so isolated and having an updated and fresh ‘new’ building to look forward to returning to is so exciting. As we emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that seniors connect, stay active and have accessible support when they need it. We can’t wait to get everyone back together again – in a responsible fashion – in our brighter, modernized and much improved space,” said Anne Coyne, program director for the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center. The center is planning to safely start welcoming seniors back coordinating with the city of Alexandria’s Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Over the past months, while staff and volunteers have worked to address the needs of vulnerable seniors who were isolated during COVID-19 by delivering meals and social services remotely, the Center received a major upgrade from HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV), a non-profit that partners with organizations such as Catholic Charities to build and renovate housing facilities and programmatic spaces via the donated expertise, labor and resources of local homebuilders. Northfield Construction & Development and Trinity Group Construction served as HANV’s “builder captains,” leading the work and mobilizing 9 trade partners to renovate the Center by updating the electrical and lighting, installing storage and shelving, upgrading bathrooms, replacing accordion “walls” with permanent walls, and installing ramps to improve accessibility.
“The programming and social services that senior centers provide are essential for many of our region’s most vulnerable older adults. HomeAid Northern Virginia is proud to have partnered with Catholic Charities to help ensure that seniors in Northern Virginia have access to a high-quality, modern senior center,” said HomeAid Northern Virginia Executive Director and CEO Kristyn Burr. HANV covered 100% of the renovation costs, enabling Catholic Charities to invest its resources in programs and services, rather than in construction costs.
The St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, housed in a 1950s facility that once served as a Lutheran church camp, closed onsite programming amid COVID-19 pandemic and over the past year has shifted focus to providing services in the community as a “senior center without walls”. The staff delivered items like food, activity kits, household supplies, weekly wellness calls and helped to schedule the seniors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A partnership funded by the City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services, the Center offers variety of programs and support services that enable the elderly to remain functioning independently in the community. Its services prevent loneliness, isolation and premature institutionalization.