On Monday, March 2nd, Catholic Charities of Central Florida held a rededication ceremony and blessing for the new Lakeland Activity Center for Seniors. The center has a new name and new location at 1510 Commercial Park Drive. It is one of a kind in Lakeland.
“Nearly one third of Polk County’s population is over the age of 55 and there is a great need for places just like this. It’s truly a jewel in Polk County,” said John Hall, Polk County Board of County Commissioners who attended the ceremony and thanked Catholic Charities of Central Florida for their continued dedication to serving the seniors in the community.
“We go back to our core, our values,” said Bishop John Noonan as he reflected on the story of the loaves and fishes from the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus challenges Philip not to send people away, but to provide for them instead. “The miracle today is that the center is still alive and well. We are still reaching out to those who are in need.”
Since 1981, the senior center has provided a balanced program of nutrition, exercise, recreation and other health-related services to meet the unique needs of seniors over 55 as they age. In addition, the center offers a free lunch for eligible seniors 60 and older.
“Half of our clients live on less than $15,000 per year and depend on the services we provide, especially the hot, nutritious meals we serve each day. This may be their only hot meal of the day, and their only opportunity to socialize, exercise and learn. We also offer senior nutrition education and wellness classes,” said Brenda Reddout, Director of Alleviating Hunger at Catholic Charities of Central Florida.
Most of the center’s participants are 75 years old or older. Many live alone and are grateful for the center.
“I’m very happy we have the new place. It’s so fun to socialize over here with our friends,” said Laura Velasco who lives in Mulberry with her husband. The couple have been active participants at the center since 2006 and say this is the only place they can go to spend time with their friends and enjoy a free hot lunch.
The new center is made possible thanks to generous support from many people and organizations who helped provide the building, renovations, new furnishings and other resources.
“The transformation that took place here – it was quite a job and quite an effort. We’re so happy and so grateful,” said Fr. Charles Viviano, Pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church who helped build the community support needed to keep the center open.