The Rhawnhurst Naturally Occurring Retirement Community launched in 2004, with the idea to help senior citizens in the 19111, 19149 and 19152 ZIP codes live safely in their homes as long as possible.
The initiative has been a success.
Last year, the NORC served more than 1,300 older adults. It also had more than 500 requests for services outside its three ZIP codes.
The Bernard and Etta Weinberg Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia saw the additional need, and provided a three-year grant so the NORC could expand.
Now, the agency serves seniors in the 19114, 19115 and 19116 ZIP codes.
And, because seniors are now being served from a lot more neighborhoods than just Rhawnhurst, the agency has been renamed the Northeast NORC.
“We’re helping people stay in their communities,” said Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation, which operates the NORC.
Last week, the Northeast NORC held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its office at 8546-B Bustleton Ave., next to the T-Mobile store in the Pennypack Shopping Center.
The NORC had been at Ner Zedek synagogue, but it closed and merged with Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
Adler said the new storefront was “Abby’s brainchild,” referring to NORC senior program manager Abby Gilbert.
“This is a very significant moment,” Adler said of the new office.
Adler credited the staff and volunteers for doing all kinds of work for seniors, such as Phone a Friend, home visits, changing light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries, making minor home repairs and flipping mattresses.
The Jewish Federation works in partnership with Catholic Health Care Services. The Pew Fund for the Elderly and the PNC Foundation are among the funders.
Jack Belitsky is the chairman of the Northeast NORC’s community advisory council, is a client of the agency and leads discussions on books and current events.
Belitsky, a member of the Jewish Federation board of trustees, described Adler as a “breath of fresh air” since she arrived 2½ years ago. He believes the highlights of the agency include the home repairs and maintenance, transportation, referrals, socialization and cultural and education programs.
“They provide all of the above and much more,” he said.
Belitsky attends monthly “Lunch and Learn” programs. He’s also had NORC staff and volunteers change his carbon monoxide detector batteries and install and remove his air conditioner, and outreach coordinator Victor Peterson helped him pick out a new cell phone.
“They go above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.
Rabbi Andrea Merow, of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, blessed a prayer scroll. Congregations of Shaare Shamayim executive director Jacques Lurie and the Jewish Community of Rhawnhurst’s Reuven Slurzberg hung the scroll on a wall inside the front door.
Among those in attendance at the Feb. 3 event were Andre Krug, president and CEO of KleinLife; state Reps. Martina White and Kevin Boyle; and City Councilman Al Taubenberger.
Boyle said he is certain the Northeast NORC will do as well for people in all six ZIP codes as it’s done for seniors in Rhawnhurst and Bell’s Corner over the years.
Taubenberger, chairman of Council’s Aging Committee, credited Gilbert with helping people who love their homes, neighbors and neighborhoods stay in their houses.
White praised the many NORC offerings for seniors.
“They need to have these wonderful services. It’s the little things that count,” she said. ••
For your information…
The Northeast Naturally Occurring Retirement Community office, 8546-B Bustleton Ave., is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The NORC provides services to people 60 or older of all faiths.
The telephone number is 215-320-0351. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org