|Indianapolis Center Becomes First Center in Indiana and Ninth in Nation to Achieve Model Status|
Indianapolis, IN— In June, the Knowledge Center at the Terrace became the first Neighborhood Networks center in Indiana to achieve Model status in the Neighborhood Networks Center Classification System. The accomplishment also earned the center the number nine spot on the list of centers to have attained Model status and membership into a prestigious group of centers that serve as shining examples of potential and performance to all other Neighborhood Networks centers.
“I really wanted to attain Model status, and I am thrilled that we made it into the top 10 list. Achieving Model status was my way of thanking the residents for all that they do and all that they have done. I am happy that I was able to empower them to use the center to create a greater sense of community and to bolster their skills and confidence. They have truly made the center their center. Their enthusiasm and hard work make my job easier,” reported Heather Bischoff, senior resident service coordinator for the Knowledge Center at the Terrace.
While Bischoff is quick to attribute much of the success of the Knowledge Center at the Terrace to the residents’ efforts, it only takes a brief conversation with her to realize that without her guidance and support, the center would not be where it is today. Bischoff’s decision to serve as a facilitator and empower residents with the resources to achieve their goals has been an effective management style that works well with the 53 senior residents the center serves. It is this hands-off, silent-support role that makes residents’ successes all that more meaningful. And, it was the successes of residents that motivated Bischoff to attain Model status.
Building a Model Center
For Bischoff, creating a Model center did not happen overnight. It required countless hours of learning what residents needed and wanted from their Neighborhood Networks center, numerous meetings with community partners to determine what resources were available and how to tap into them, and of course, plenty of hard work.
“When I started at the center in 2004, many residents simply did not see the value or benefits of having an onsite computer center. The center was operating, but it was not being used to its full potential. To determine what programs and services would encourage residents to take advantage of this incredible resource, I conducted surveys every six months of my first two years here. I also established a resident focus group that would provide input on what types of programs were needed,” explained Bischoff.
Bischoff also contacted nearby ITT Technical Institute to see if they would be willing to provide computer support. After speaking with Bischoff, school administrators concluded that the Knowledge Center at the Terrace would be an ideal site for students to complete their Capstone Project, a requirement for graduation.
For six months, ITT Technical Institute students worked at the center updating all of the computers and setting up the server to enable Bischoff to track residents’ computer use. The students also created a manual, which Bischoff still uses, that provides step-by-step instructions for a variety of computer maintenance and setup. One of the students from the project still lends his computer skills to the center.
Bischoff’s efforts to resurrect the center paid off. Through the surveys and computer usage tracking, she discovered the types of programs residents wanted. She also learned that the senior residents preferred to learn computer skills in an informal, self-paced, one-on-one setting. To meet residents’ learning needs, Bischoff recruited a volunteer computer instructor who provides personal training at the center on every Wednesday and Thursday.
“Our volunteer computer instructor helps the senior residents with all sorts of projects, such as genealogy research and setting up online banking and e-mail accounts. He uses Generations Online, an Internet-based program, to teach residents how to navigate and use the Internet. And, he also helps the residents with any issues they may be having with PrintMaster 16, the software program the residents use to produce their newsletter,” said Bischoff.
The newsletter to which Bischoff is referring is a six-page, double-sided, monthly publication. Every resident is invited to contribute information to the newsletter. Two residents compile, edit, and layout the information, while another delivers the newsletter to the doorsteps of every resident.
“Each month, the newsletter profiles a resident and features a resident’s recipe. It is always exciting for them to see who made the newsletter and to learn a little bit more about each other. The newsletter also promotes upcoming events and resources. The residents do 100 percent of the work, which includes collecting and organizing the information, laying it out, using clip art to make it more visually attractive, and distributing it to all the residents. The only input I have is making 60 copies of the final document for distribution,” explained Bischoff.
Gathering the Resources for Empowerment
In keeping with her role as facilitator, Bischoff works with numerous partners to raise money for center programs and resources. August is a big fundraising month for Bischoff. Early in the month, Bischoff enlists the help of local partners to hand out tomato juice at the Indiana State Fair.
“The tomato juice stand is sort of an Indiana State Fair tradition. For one, at $1 a cup, it is the cheapest drink at the fair. Secondly, people know that the money raised from the tomato juice stand supports the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association’s Master Gardeners Program so the stand is pretty busy. Last year, we worked two days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and raised $150. We are hoping to raise even more money this year when the Indiana State Fair kicks off on August 6th. Like last year, we will use the money to purchase supplies for the center’s two community gardens that were created in 2005 with the help of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful,” said Bischoff.
Later in August, Bischoff coordinates a health fair that has grown to become a major fundraiser for the center. For the event, Bischoff invites local community agencies to donate $100 for a table at the health fair. This provides the agencies with an opportunity to increase awareness about their programs and services. It also educates residents about community health resources.
“We regularly invite local agencies to visit the center to conduct health screenings, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and bone density checks. The health fair seemed like a good way to gather all of these organizations at once and earn a little money in the process. Last year, we raised $1,300 with the health fair,” explained Bischoff.
Bischoff contributed a portion of this $1,300 to support the Missions Day fundraiser that is hosted each year by National Church Residences (NCR), the owner and operator of Green Park Terrace. Bischoff used the remaining portion of the money to support center programs and purchase the Resident Leadership Award.
“The Resident Leadership Award is a pretty prestigious award. Each year, the residents nominate a resident who they feel contributes the most to the community and center. That individual’s name is engraved on a gold plate that is part of a larger Resident Leadership Award plaque. The winner of the Resident Leadership Award and other awards are announced at our sit-down, fully catered, Christmas dinner. Like achieving Model status, the Resident Leadership Award is a big deal. It exemplifies one’s commitment and dedication. And, like our Model center plaque, the Resident Leadership Award plaque is displayed where everyone can see it,” concluded Bischoff.
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in Indiana, contact:
Dawn K. Manley
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Indianapolis Field Office
151 North Delaware, Suite 1200
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2526
(317) 226-6303 x7012
For more information about the Knowledge Center at the Terrace, contact:
Senior Resident Service Coordinator
Knowledge Center at the Terrace
110 East Meridian School Road
Indianapolis, IN 46227
|| Back to top
Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)