More Than 50 Years Of Improving Lives
In 1968, the South County Neighborhood Center at Boca Raton first opened its doors. The Center started out staffed solely by volunteers and established itself as a community based non-profit organization serving individuals in poverty-stricken situations. The Center received its certification as a not-for-profit corporation and soon after became a recipient of United Way funding. Financial donations and supplies poured in from the community to help support and sustain the Center. Over the years it became evident that the needs of seniors were largely overlooked, and seniors needed an organization in the community dedicated to providing critical programs and support services which would allow them to age, at home, independently in the community. In 1976, the Center narrowed its focus to helping the older adults in the community and through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Volen, in 1983, the Mae Volen Senior Center was established.
The Volens had become first become interested in the Center when Mrs. Volen, Mae, was volunteering. Her love for the seniors and her concern for their well-being was evident when she asked her husband, Ben, to purchase the very first vehicle for the Center so that frail elders could get to and from doctor appointments and other life sustaining destinations as her birthday present. Ben was happy to oblige, and the transportation program became one of the key programs that the Center has continued to provide to the public and has linked thousands of older adults to crucial services throughout the community. Today the transportation program has a fleet of over 30 vehicles and provides approximately 80,000 rides per year to the older adults of South Palm Beach County.
In 1986, the Center moved to a larger building that was made possible through another generous donation from Ben and Mae Volen and it became known as the Mae Volen Senior Center. The Center houses the Life Enrichment program, more commonly referred to as a senior center, serving thousands of active older adults each year and provides activities ranging from exercise classes, weekly outings, art, and educational classes as well as bingo, holiday parties and entertainment.
Over the next 40+ years, the Center continued a steady uphill of growth taking on many new programs and services to serve older adults. These services include senior dining sites serving no cost hot, nutritious meals Monday through Friday in various locations in southern Palm Beach County; care management services to help one remain comfortably in their own home through assistance with bathing, cleaning, meal prep, shopping and supervision; meals delivered to the home, adult day care for those with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments as well as physical disabilities, and much, much more! Recently, the Center added an intergenerational program promoting the interaction of young children and older adults, through a partnership with the Fuller Center. A child day care center is operated on-site with almost daily opportunities for interaction between the preschoolers and the seniors. Evidence based programming demonstrates the benefits of these enriching interactions for both generations and we are seeing and experiencing that magic right before our eyes each and every day.
Over the past 50 years, the Center has come to be known lovingly in the community as The Volen Center and the staff has grown from a group of unpaid volunteers to over 75 paid employees and over 150 volunteers! The annual budget was sustained solely by private funding and goods and services donated by volunteers in the early days. Today, the annual budget has grown to $10 million due to private and public funding as well as donations.
Today you can see the trademark Volen buses and vans throughout the South Palm Beach County roadways with the brightly displayed services on each of our vehicles. From adult day care services to senior dining sites, to weekly field trips and fun with kids, the Center has seen so much growth in its long history, yet we realize that there is so much yet to come and more work to be done. The Volen Center’s long history of quality service delivery has rooted it deeply in the community as a trusted resource for seniors and their loved ones and families, not only for today’s older adults, but for those yet to come. With continued support from the community and individuals, the Volen Center will continue to serve the needs of future seniors for many more years.