Neville Strumpf talks Women Visionaries and the Care of Older People
On March 28th 2017, Bates Center Advisory Board Chair Neville Strumpf, renowned expert in gerontology nursing, (Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania) offered an historical overview of care for older persons in Philadelphia at an event at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Strumpf, who currently serves as the President of the Ralston Center Board of Managers, used the history of the Ralston Center as a prism of such efforts in the city and the nation. The Ralston Center was created in 1817, when Sarah Ralston formed a group of philanthropic women with the shared goal of creating a home for elderly women who were unable to care for themselves– at the time, mostly indigent widows and single women. The Indigent Widows and Single Women’s Society (IWSWS), as it was known then, offered a caring alternative to a particular older population of women in need at a time when there were few options.
The Indigent Widows and Single Women’s Society (IWSWS) was the first nondenominational organization of its kind. In the late 20th century the organization, now known as Ralston Center, shifted its focus away from institutional care, and began to consider the needs of all vulnerable older adults in the community. Today, the Ralston Center provides core services to the city’s elderly, particularly those in West Philadelphia through wellness, housing, and supportive services and Age-Friendly initiatives.