MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

A lot has changed since mid-March 2020. Most Centers shifted their daily operations to things like curbside dining, telephone reassurance and conference-call bingo. Remember drive-by birthday parties? The need for the typical services, socialization, nutrition and fitness of Senior Centers didn't go away, it just had to wait for health circumstances to improve. From those early days through today, a new group of participants appeared. These were people who had never participated in any programs pre-COVID. Some arrived because they were excited to finally be of age. For others, they reached out to the Center for help. Whatever the reason, they're glad they found you. These new participants will forever be part of the legacy of COVID. In this case, it's something good that COVID has left behind for us.

In this issue, we're going to compare these new participants (anyone who came to you for the first time after March 13, 2020) to existing members (defined as anyone who came to the Center prior to March 13, 2020). We'll also look at some of the participation preferences for the new group.

Let's have a look.

Welcome to...Fun Facts - the


This is My Legacy

To make things easier, we're going to use the term 'members' as shorthand for people who participate in any of your services. As you could guess, across the Network, the rate of new members dropped dramatically in 2020 due to the pandemic. While some Centers stayed open, the vast majority (over 90%) did not. As a result, the new members who joined their local Center in 2020 were focused on social services, home-delivered meals, curbside pickups and food pantry. Very few events were offered in 2020. As more Centers cautiously opened for parts of 2021 (mostly summer), numbers started to tick up a bit for events and even trips. In 2022, as almost all Centers have returned to full operation (if not full capacity), we've seen a big jump in new members and a wider range of services being utilized. The graph below shows the number of new members across the Network, by year.

The number for 2022 is projected based on data as of September 30th. While the Network has only generated 72% of the new members that were acquired in 2019 (the last full pre-COVID year), it represents a sharp increase from the last two years. In the next few sections, we'll learn more about those 2020 - 2022 members.

I Remember You

The primary focus of these new members is events. 71% of all new members have participated in at least one event. The graph below shows other major service areas. Vol is short for Volunteering and Svcs is for Social Services. Much like a wordcloud, the size of the leaf indicates the frequency of the service used by new members.

Time of Your Life

There are some subtle but interesting differences in the events choices between new and existing members. From 2020 - 2022, existing members chose events in the Recreation/Socialization category 45% of the time, followed by Nutrition (24%) and Fitness/Exercise (22%).

New members opted for Nutrition events 37% of the time followed by Fitness/Exercise (29%) and then Recreation/Socialization (20%). Same top three but in a different order. It emphasizes the fact that new members were drawn to your services because of a need.


The graphs above look at participation by event categories for new vs. existing members over the last 2+ years. After seeing that data, we drilled down to the actual events/programs that were most popular for the new members. The two most frequent programs were Lunch and Drive-thru/Curbside lunch. We're showing those as two different events because it's interesting to see the enduring interest in drive-thru. Within the Recreation/Social category, Bingo was the clear leader. For Fitness/Exercise there was a huge range of programs, but Tai Chi, Yoga and Pickleball held a slight edge over the others.

Forever and Ever

In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving (October 10) and US Thanksgiving (November 24), we're going to focus on food-related activities in the November issue. The recent trends make it look like the congregate program is having a bit of a renaissance and we're excited to dive into the data.