On Friday, November 21, Governor Charlie Crist and Department of Elder Affairs Secretary E. Douglas Beach announced $10 million in grants to repair, maintain, and construct senior centers around the state, including $343, 245 for the Florida Institute for Workforce Innovation (FIWI) to construct a new senior center in Putnam County. FIWI is a private not-for-profit organization located in Melrose that provides supports and services to seniors.
“Senior centers play an essential role in the overall health and community involvement of Florida’s older adults, who have given so much to our state and nation over the years,” said Governor Crist. “These funds will help the centers provide even more opportunities for seniors to stay connected to their communities.”
The new senior center in Melrose, located on State Road 26 at the cross roads of Alachua, Bradford, Clay, and Putnam Counties, will be approximately 2,500 square feet and provide a variety of recreational activities, continuing education classes, nutrition and meal services, workforce skills development, and case management in one centralized location.
“FIWI’s goal is to provide senior citizens living in the four county region with a one-stop shop of services to promote health and wellness, social interaction and overall well- being,” said FIWI Executive Director, Jonathan Leslie. “We believe the addition of this senior center will greatly enhance the community at large. This was truly a group effort and we appreciate the support of local citizens and business owners, along with county, state, and federal lawmakers.”
The 2008 Legislature authorized the grants, recognizing that senior centers boost the social, physical and intellectual activity of Florida seniors. A similar round of grants totaling $9.1 million also was awarded during the 2007-08 fiscal year.
“One of the most important things we can do for Florida’s seniors is to provide the means for them to stay active and involved in their communities,” said Elder Affairs Secretary E. Douglas Beach. “These grants will make an important difference in the lives of countless older Floridians.”
Senior centers receiving the state grants will be required to provide at least a 25-percent match, bringing the total value of the projects to a minimum of $12.5 million.
An estimated 380,000 seniors visit Florida’s senior centers each year. The centers provide a place where older citizens can access a variety of recreational, health and social services, including nutritional meals, educational classes, and preventive health screenings. Florida’s 240 centers provide a wide range of activities that enhance the daily lives of seniors and often extend beyond traditional programs and events.
“Our hats are off to FIWI for this great accomplishment,” said Tom Lucas, Melrose Business and Community Association Board Member. “This will be a huge asset for Melrose.”
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