From The Collier Star – Click here to download PDF
After years of trying to find a place to settle down, a new senior citizens center for the Golden Gate community is nearing the final stretch.
Construction on the Golden Gate Senior Center is almost complete. Originally scheduled to open in October in the former Golden Gate library, 4898 Coronado Parkway, the center is now looking at a November debut while it awaits final permits, said Jim Barton, chairman of the Collier Senior Resources Board of Directors.
The Collier Senior Resources Board of Directors has been the driving force developing the center for the past two years. “I now know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and not a train coming at me,” said Barton. “It’s been delightful to see it coming together, and it’s going to happen. It’s exciting.”
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to partner with Collier Senior Resources to help local seniors, said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. The sheriff’s Seniors Advocacy Unit works hand in hand with Collier Senior Resources and supports its mission to provide comprehensive information, services and resources that affect the quality of life of older adults and their caregivers, empowering them to maintain independent and meaningful lives.
The new senior center will be “a terrific asset” for the Golden Gate community, Sheriff Rambosk said. “The No. 1 reason elderly people become a victim is isolation,” Sheriff Rambosk said. “The Golden Gate Senior Center will go a long way in keeping seniors connected with the community and each other.”
The new center will provide seniors and their caregivers with a central access point for social and supportive services. Thanks to enthusiastic collaboration among numerous nonprofit and governmental agencies, Barton said, the center will offer a daily nutrition program, food pantry, counseling services, and support services for caretakers. It will also offer direct services, with agencies onsite, ranging from veterans benefits to Social Security and from Medicare to Senior Choices of Southwest Florida.
There will be access to Collier Area Transit, including door-to-door service for less mobile seniors, health screenings and referrals, and safety services from the Sheriff’s Office.
There will also be plenty of fun activities, including games, music, and arts and crafts.
As a community partner, the Sheriff’s Office will use the center to provide educational sessions on topics that directly affect seniors like scams and frauds. The goal is to reduce to likelihood that they will become a crime victim.
Sheriff Rambosk said many elderly victims fear consequences of reporting crimes against them because the caregiver, the most common perpetrator, has threatened withdrawal of care. The senior center will educate seniors on the various programs that are available in the community, hopefully giving them the support needed to report elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, he said.
The center’s staff will be fluent in Spanish and Creole so that all seniors will be comfortable accessing the center and its services, Barton said.
New program director Tatiana Fortune said she speaks Creole. Her first day on the job was Aug. 25. Prior to coming to Collier County, Fortune worked for the Lee County Human Services Department.
Fortune called the new senior center “a beautiful project.”
“I’m really looking forward to having a space for seniors to be comfortable and welcome and to have access to services that will help them with bettering their quality of life,” Fortune said. A needs assessment of Collier County seniors by Florida Gulf Coast University a year and a half ago showed that the county had a serious shortage of services for its older seniors and its many frail, isolated and vulnerable elderly. It also showed there are 57,600 seniors residing in North Naples, Golden Gate and East Naples. Jewish Family and Community Services responded to the North Naples need, recently opening a 4,000-square-foot senior center on Castello Drive.
Both the North Naples and new Golden Gate senior centers will fill an unmet need, said Sallie Williams of the Williams Consulting Group LLC, consultant for Collier Senior Resources. “We anticipate additional centers will open in the coming years because the need is so great,” Williams said.