It’s a bragging right that only one senior center has earned in a four-state area – and that other center also is in Eastern Jackson County.

It’s a bragging right that only one senior center has earned in a four-state area – and that other center also is in Eastern Jackson County.

The Palmer Center in Independence Friday morning launched its effort to join the ranks of Blue Springs’ Vesper Hall in earning accreditation through the National Institute of Senior Centers, a constituent unit of the National Council on Aging. Vesper Hall, which earned accreditation in 2006, is the only nationally accredited senior center throughout Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.

“This is a very big endeavor for us,” said Eric Urfer, director of the Independence Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s very, very important, but it’s not easy to get there. Frankly, we need your help.

“The Palmer Center has been in operation for six years, and it has taken a little bit to get all of the operations up to snuff and to get all of the programming levels to where we want them to be, but we are proud to say that we’ve reached that and we’re now well positioned to go into this full accreditation process.”

According to Urfer, the benefits of accreditation include validating the functions the center provides; expanding opportunities for grants and other funding sources; recognizing seniors as vital citizens to Independence; and continuing to ensure the center’s services and programming.  

The Parks and Recreation Department contracted with Roberta “Poo” Coker to facilitate the application with a projected completion date in July 2011. Coker is the former director of community relations for the Independence School District and is a civic volunteer.

About 30 community volunteers and employees of the city of Independence, Mid-Continent Public Library, NorthWest Communities Development Corporation, Independence School District and other entities attended Friday’s meeting and signed up for different subcommittees to facilitate the two-part accreditation process.

First, the nine standards for accreditation must be met – purpose and planning; community connections; governance; administration and human resources; program development and implementation; evaluation; fiscal and asset responsibility; records and reports; and facility and operations.

The second component involves compiling documentation, an on-site review from the National Council on Aging, and finally, the national accreditation board of directors’ recommendation.

Facilities available at Palmer Center, 218A N. Pleasant St., include a gymnasium, a fitness room, a game and craft room, dining hall, a small meeting room, an outdoor patio, a low vision center and a computer lab. Visit www.indepmo.org or call 816-325-6000 for more information.