CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Southminster, South Charlotte’s leading life-plan community, and The Shepherd’s Center both see the challenges of aging on a daily basis. Their complementary skill sets recently led the two organizations to strengthen their collaboration in order to increase social connections, expand access to critical resources, and combat the negative effects of isolation seniors inevitably encounter in an increasingly mobile society. As part of its expanded philanthropic vision, Southminster will provide The Shepherd’s Center with direct financial support to assist them in expanding their mission.
Both organizations saw the writing on the wall. When The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte opened in 1978, the life expectancy of U.S. women was 77.3 years, more than seven years longer than in 1948. By the time Southminster opened in 1987, that number had grown to 78.3 years. With children becoming more likely to move away from their hometowns for job opportunities, aging parents were becoming more likely to be at risk of losing the daily contact and social connections of having family nearby. And there was another force at work. By 1987, women were still likely to outlive their husbands by seven years.
The Shepherd’s Center sought to help fill the gaps by offering a variety of programs and services, ranging from social activities and lifelong learning programs to free transportation services for seniors, tax assistance and free Medicare consulting.  Likewise, Southminster addressed the challenges of aging by creating a retirement community focused on amenities, activities and community service opportunities that were all designed to foster social connections.

In Sync with Research
Research supports the great need for community collaborations among organizations dedicated to supporting the challenges of an aging America. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered socially isolated. Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, and hearing loss. “Seniors who are socially isolated are at greater risk of being depressed and developing chronic diseases,” said Southminster President and CEO Ben Gilchrist. “For such compelling reasons, we are particularly proud of this opportunity to collaborate with an insightful organization such as The Shepherd’s Center, known for decades worth of work in lifelong learning for seniors in our community.”
“Southminster and The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte partnership makes perfect sense to us too,” said Alissa Celek, Director of The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte. “Together we will have even more bandwidth to support the senior community through access to resources, lifelong learning, and fellowship, with a collective goal to enrich the lives of those we serve.”

Meeting the Most Practical Daily Needs
According to USAging, the national association for Area Agencies on Aging, about 600,000 older adults stop driving each year, making it difficult for seniors to make medical appointments, shop and stay connected to friends and family. “The volunteer drivers who provide door-to-door services for seniors to medical appointments and other destinations is an invaluable resource in our community and one we need to support and grow as community needs increase. We will also be able to support these transportation needs through our collaboration with The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte,” said Tracy McGinnis, Southminster’s Vice President of Philanthropy and Strategic Initiatives.

About Southminster
A leader in the field of aging, Southminster is a non-profit, charitable Life Plan Community, providing innovative living solutions to aging across a full continuum of care.  Dedicated to overall well-being, Southminster embraces living life with purpose by valuing independence and privacy, inspiring creative passions, encouraging lifelong learning, and motivating each individual’s plan for wellness to its highest potential.  For more information on Southminster, please visit

About The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte
As a nonprofit interfaith organization, Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte originated in response to a need to redefine and restructure the way aging is approached. Located in and serving members of Mecklenburg County, Shepherd’s Charlotte continues to offer a variety of programs and services, ranging from social activities to transportation to Medicare consulting.