by:  CLIFF NEWELL Ann Adrian, manager of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, holds the plaque that signifies the ACC has achieved national accreditation through the National Institute of Senior Centers.

The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center now officially ranks with the best senior centers in the nation.

The ACC was recently notified that it had achieved national accreditation through the National Institute of Senior Centers, a division of the National Council on aging.

It became the first senior center in the Portland Metro area to reach such status and just the third in the entire state of Oregon.

'This very publicly shows us as a program of excellence,' said center manager Ann Adrian. 'It shows that we're able to provide services at a high level.'

The decision to seek national accreditation was made last year, which was the 40th anniversary for the ACC.

'We decided to undertake something really special to benefit our residents as well as the city,' Adrian said. 'It took a certain amount of courage. We had to identify our strong points and also places where we can improve.'

A key to getting the honor was the ACC's self-assessment committee, a group of local residents who reviewed all of its policies in a six-month process. Members submitted a huge notebook to the NISC.

'We couldn't have done it without them,' Adrian said.

The ACC was ready when the NISC sent on-site and off-site evaluators to perform their reviews. What they most liked was this:

n The center's committed and professional staff, plus its huge base of volunteers. These 350 hardy and dedicated souls contribute what Adrian says 'is like having nine-plus more staffers.'

n Strong community connections.

n A vital Meals-on-Wheels program.

Actually, the suspense in waiting on the verdict was not too great, because Adrian and her staff were confident they had made a good showing. But it was a happy day when official word arrived on June 9.

Adrian expects national accreditation to bolster the ACC's reputation, sort of like high ratings can benefit hospitals.

'Many people rather go to a place that is accredited,' she said.

But there is even more exciting news. The Lake Oswego City Council is expected to approve the release of money from the Minter Fund (set up to benefit the ACC and Lake Oswego Public Library). The money will help greatly as the ACC seeks to act upon the recommendations from the NISC.

'We're hoping to get $50,000,' Adrian said. 'Maybe higher.'

The accreditation will also be a boost for grant seeking.

'It's something to look to in the future as we try to become more and more fiscally stable,' Adrian said.

An 'Accreditation Celebration' is planned on July 19 from 4 to 6 p.m., which will be attended by dignitaries and local residents.

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