United Way’s commitment to community education and empowerment shines brightly through the Powered by Purpose Speaker Series, a heartfelt initiative addressing the critical needs of Florida seniors. The series brings attention to the challenges faced by over half of Florida seniors living below the ALICE threshold and the substantial senior population (33%) in Indian River County.
United Way, in collaboration with local organizations, recognizes the hardships seniors endure, including isolation, limited healthcare access, and transportation barriers, and is dedicated to bridging the gaps in support for this deserving community.
Distinguished guest speakers at the event included Karen Diegl, President and CEO of Senior Resource Association; Bonnie Metz, Executive Director of St. Francis Manor; and Peggy Cunningham, Executive Director of the Alzheimer and Parkinson Association.
The programs represented at the event provide a comprehensive range of services for seniors, including social activities, meal delivery, transportation, and low-income housing. While the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association focuses on individuals affected by memory and movement disorders, the Senior Resource Association (SRA) and St. Francis Manor cater to the broader spectrum of seniors needing services.
During the panel discussion, the speakers addressed the profound isolation experienced by seniors who cannot drive and emphasized the benefits of engaging in social activities. Despite SRA’s robust Meals on Wheels service, there remains a waitlist of over 300 seniors in need of services.
The audience actively participated, discussing the challenges of grandparents as caregivers, multigenerational living due to housing costs, and the limitations of Medicare and Medicaid in providing in-home care.
The Powered by Purpose Speaker Series, committed to bridging these critical gaps, initiated discussions on providing essential support, resources, and advocacy for seniors in Indian River County. Future topics will include youth career readiness, health, and homelessness.
Highlights during the event showcased the impactful work of the organizations represented. The Senior Resource Association, celebrating its 50th year, provides independence and dignity for seniors, including transportation services. St. Francis Manor, also in its 50th year, focuses on low-income housing for seniors, with plans to expand to meet the growing demand. Cunningham’s work at Alzheimer and Parkinson Association is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals and families affected by memory and movement disorders.
The event underscored the urgent need to address isolation-induced health issues, the profound impact of COVID-19 on seniors, and the necessity of collaboration among programs to maximize support for the elderly.
Meredith Egan, CEO of United Way, shared insights into the organization’s initiatives, including the Senior Collaborative of Indian River County, designed to link seniors with providers and services. She emphasized the importance of creating a livable community that allows seniors to age in place with inclusion in civic and social structures.
As the Silver Tsunami looms, with the number of residents over 55 expected to exceed 90,000 by 2045, United Way’s Powered by Purpose Speaker Series stands as a beacon, guiding community leaders in preparing for the demographic shift. The series promotes active, engaged, and healthy living opportunities for people of all ages, recognizing the invaluable contributions of older adults to society.
About United Way of Indian River County
United Way of Indian River County (UWIRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every community member. United Way works with local programs to provide resources to individuals and families in crisis today while working year-round to improve community conditions and create lasting solutions. We are effectively building a solid foundation and improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. For more information about your local United Way, please call (772) 567-8900 or visit our website, UnitedWayIRC.org.