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The Shepherd's Center of Charlotte: Mitigating the effects of isolation four decades before COVID




In early 2020, COVID created instant isolation for teenagers. Losing their in-person school communities, lockdowns and pandemic uncertainty increased anxiety and depression. The negative effect on younger people was all-too-familiar to the leaders at The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte. They saw the same situation with older people four decades ago.

In the 1980s, people who had aged into the senior community faced a host of challenges. Spouses were passing away. Grown children had moved away for job opportunities. Charlotte neighborhoods became filled with young families busy with a myriad of activities. Seniors back then were like our community’s teenagers 40 years later as COVID spread. There was a desperate need for a network of support for seniors to increase social connection, expand access to critical resources and combat the negative effects of isolation. The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte stepped in with optimism, enthusiasm and strategic resources.

Today, the Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte (SCC), has grown as a nonprofit, interfaith organization that’s part of a network of 55 Shepherd’s Centers across the country. It offers vital services and social opportunities that support purposeful aging. For example, the prospect of signing up for Medicare strikes fear in the hearts of most 64-year-olds as they approach their 65th birthdays. The Shepherd’s Center has a solution for that. Its trained volunteers are experts at discussing and explaining Medicare, Medicare Supplements, Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage through its SHIIP (State Health Insurance Information Program) program.

In partnership with AARP, the Center also offers tax return preparation and filing assistance free of charge. Its Essential Transportation Services helps ensure those who can no longer drive themselves can get to doctor's appointments and shopping for necessities.

Recently, SCC strengthened its collaboration with Southminster 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 SCC with direct financial support to assist them in expanding their mission.


The Center’s Adventures in Learning (AIL), a lifelong learning program, runs its Spring 2023 Session April 17th through May 22nd.  Classes are led by volunteer instructors, focused on helping seniors continue to learn, discover, and grow in an atmosphere of friendship. And the signature fund-raising event, Chef Wars, is back in person on Thursday June 22nd, with tickets on sale May 1st.

For more information about all programs and events, visit https://www.shepherdscharlotte.org/

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