State senator offers helping hand for seniors

When Jemith Rosa approached State Sen. Wilton Simpson seeking some assistance for a project to help senior citizens, she came away with more than she expected.

Rosa went to Simpson to see if he could help her with her quest for a new, and larger senior center in Dade City.

Simpson, of Trilby, responded to her request by donating 1.7 acres, behind the existing center in downtown Dade City.

Jemith Rosa, left, is joined by State Sen. Wilton Simpson; Dr. Rao Musunuru, CARES board member; and, Lauran Simpson Monbarren. (Courtesy of Melissa Kehler/Community Aging & Retirement Services)

Rosa, who is president and CEO of Community Aging & Retirement Services Inc., couldn’t believe Simpson’s response.

“He looked me straight in my eyes and he said, ‘Jemith, believe it or not, I can make that wish come true immediately.’

“Everything happened in like 30 seconds,” Rosa recounted.

Simpson is a Republican representing District 10, which includes Citrus and Hernando counties, and portions of Pasco County.

A new “One Stop” senior services center is needed because the current facility is too small, Rosa said. The donation of Simpson’s land helps further CARES’ pursuit of a larger facility, Rosa said.

“In East Pasco alone, we have over 600 people waiting for those services,” Rosa said.

CARES is a nonprofit organization, established in 1973, to serve seniors.

It provides senior citizens with activities to stay productive. It also provides physical and occupational therapy, and meals.

The center provides support to caregivers by giving them a place where they can bring their loved ones and know they’ll be in a “secure, beautiful, positive environment,” Rosa said. That gives caregivers a break, so they can take care of themselves, she explained.

CARES’ staff also provides some in-home services as well, which consist of housekeeping, personal care and meal preparation.

And, it provides those seniors with their own emergency response necklace to use in situations such as a fall.

To offer all these services, the organization relies on federal and state grants.

And now, it is trying to raise the money needed to build on the site that Simpson donated.

Rosa envisions a 6,000-square-foot facility to better serve a large number of seniors.

The new building would consist of a resource center where seniors can receive information on how to remain independent.

Rosa hopes the center would have multiple rooms to offer activities and seminars on healthy living. She’d also like to have a case management team available at the center.

Aside from government funding, Rosa said another possible source of support could be a fundraiser.

She also is pursuing a partnership with Pasco County Senior Services to provide adequate dining.

So far, there’s no anticipated date for building the new senior center, but Rosa said Simpson’s donation brings the project a giant step closer to becoming a reality.

“We at CARES, we are so grateful to Senator Simpson, that he has done this for us,” Rosa said.

Published January 15, 2020

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