The Seniors First mission is to enhance the quality of life of seniors by maintaining their independence and dignity.
Seniors First is the safety net for at-risk seniors with limited options. Our network of community-based programs and services provides a continuum of care to prevent hunger and strengthen and support vulnerable seniors in promoting and maintaining their health and independence. We provide a vital support system to those who are otherwise unable to access or afford programs that offer older adults independence, choice and hope. Our services are a proven, cost effective means of helping functionally impaired older adults meet their daily living needs, maintain or improve their quality of life, and remain stable at home where they want to be.
In 2016 we helped 5,149 clients:
In-home Care Program:
Guardianship: 137 individuals in Orange and Seminole counties received our guardianship care.
Stepping Stone Medical Equipment: 722 clients were served through our medical equipment bank.
Created in 1966, Seniors First, Inc. has grown from a small information and referral agency to become the largest social services organization in Greater Orlando providing direct service to our community’s vulnerable elderly.
Landmark federal legislation, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was established in 1965 to address the well-being of all our older citizens. The momentum carried to Central Florida when a group of individuals formed the Orange County Citizens Advisory Council on Aging, the ancestor program of Seniors First, in 1966 as an advocacy and information and referral organization. In 1973, the Meals on Wheels program began in Orange County as a fledgling volunteer program of the Christian Service Center which operated in church kitchens. In the same time period, the Orange County Public School System began a Neighborhood Lunch program for seniors. Both of these nutrition programs were funded, in part, through the Older Americans Act of 1965. In 1989, Meals on Wheels and Neighborhood Lunch programs were consolidated with the Orange County Citizens Advisory Council on Aging. These events laid the foundation for the organization that would later undergo a name change to Seniors First, Inc. in 1993. In 2009, Community Care for the Elderly/VNA was merged into Seniors First, adding in-home supportive services for Orange and Seminole counties. Today, Seniors First is the largest social services organization in Greater Orlando helping senior citizens through a combination of public and private funding.
We serve the highly vulnerable elderly population age 60 years and older, seniors with significant health conditions or mental impairments, at risk for hunger and malnourishment, decreased physical mobility, sensory and cognitive decline, low income, and little to no social support. The one constant since 1966 has been enthusiastic devotion to providing seniors a support system that allows them independence, choice and hope.
Simply put, we help seniors live at home.
Programs that help older Americans live independently in their own homes have not kept pace with the needs. Without home care and community based assistance, seniors are left with one choice – more costly nursing home care. For many years, Seniors First has acted as the main community resource for connecting seniors to available programs and services.
No one likes to think about the aging process; seniors face a number of unique medical and mobility challenges. Too many seniors are isolated, living alone. Too many seniors are threatened by hunger. Too many seniors have difficulty paying for basic living needs. We'd like to change that in Central Florida.
Seniors First makes it possible for older adults not to have to choose between paying for medications or basic living expenses versus buying groceries. Our services help seniors to meet their needs of daily living at home, which greatly impacts their health and ability to remain living independently.
The strength of this organization is in its people. It’s the individuals who work in the programs on behalf of those whose voices have been diminished a little by age and a lot by loneliness. It’s the countless volunteers who are giving of their time, talents, and resources to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. And indeed this is what Seniors First is all about. Our programs and services are geared toward helping to improve the well-being of older adults and to help them live independently in their home environment and the community.
As we look to the future we know that the number of seniors in our country will grow exponentially over the coming years – the impact of the Baby Boom generation. Recent studies report that six million of our nation’s seniors currently suffer from some type of “food insecurity,” which means they struggle to obtain adequate nourishment each day.
Our primary goal at Seniors First is to decrease food insecurity and improve nutrition.
Our hope is that you will join us in meeting our goal to help alleviate senior hunger. With your support, the challenges to meet the increased demand will not only heighten awareness about this substantial social, moral and economic issue, it will insure that seniors experiencing the threat of hunger are not quietly overlooked and left without a solution.
It is difficult to enjoy your Golden Years if you are not able to live independently.
With local, state and federal government funding, personal donations, grants and fundraising strategies, Seniors First offers community-based programs and services to help our clients who are struggling to stay independent, healthy and happy.
Addressing senior hunger is our number one priority. This is very important to me, and is why I was attracted to Seniors First six years ago. For many seniors a major burden is daily nutrition. At Seniors First, Meals on Wheels is our primary outreach to seniors facing this issue. Despite our best efforts we continue to operate with a Meals on Wheels waiting list of 400-500 seniors, of which nearly 200 are considered high risk.
Our goal for the next several years is to increase private contributions and expand the capacity of Seniors First’s meal programs so that we can alleviate the senior hunger problem. A grant from the Central Florida Foundation has made it possible for Seniors First to educate our community about senior hunger through the documentary “Leftovers”. We hope this will be a catalyst to spur more individuals, businesses and foundations to join Seniors First in feeding seniors through its Meals on Wheels program.
The immediate mission driven goals of Seniors First are to alleviate hunger, combat isolation and enable independent living with enhanced quality of life for vulnerable adults, 60 years and older, by offering a vital support system to those who are unable to access or afford it. Our typical client is a 77-year-old widow living on a limited income, is isolated or has little family support, and suffers from more than one illness and/or disability. These homebound seniors are unable to meet their activities of daily living such as cooking meals, completing personal hygiene activities without assistance, or keeping their homes clean and safe. Without access to services more seniors will experience physical and emotional decline impacting their ability to remain living independently.
Our long-term goals are to prevent premature and /or unnecessary institutionalization. Seniors prefer to remain in their homes and communities where they have established roots for as long as possible without being involuntarily moved to a more restrictive environment such as an assisted living or nursing home facility. Remaining in their own homes leads to sustained or increased health and independence, and therefore improved quality of life. Caregivers receiving respite assistance reduces stress and burnout, enhancing their ability to keep their loved ones in their own homes longer, delaying institutionalization.
Baby boomers are the largest growing population, with an estimated 12,000 turning 60 every day. With the number of older adults increasing exponentially over the next few decades, we need to change the way we assist seniors and plan for this growth.
Our more specific intermediate 3-5 year goals include:
● Expand our capability to bring more meals and in-home care to the growing numbers of seniors that need our services.
● Increase private contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and the faith community to meet the growing need.
● Grow our community outreach, education and awareness of senior issues.
In order to accomplish our short and long-term goals Seniors First will take a multi-faceted and integrated approach to its strategies. They are as follows:
● Meals on Wheels and In-home Care are two programs key to meeting the daily living needs of our clients in order to remain in their own homes. Building the infrastructure to grow these programs is essential.
● In order to grow our program capacity we need to expand our fundraising dollars. An overall agency fundraising strategic plan is currently under development.
● Train and engage our volunteer board of directors on their role(s) in development and advocacy.
● Develop and implement a speaker’s bureau to proactively expand our network in the community.
● Seek new opportunities addressing the issues of senior hunger and food waste in our community. Seniors First has just been selected to participate in the What a Waste project, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s innovative food waste solution. This will help Seniors First create menus and serve meals that can improve their clients’ overall nutrition and promote better health.
● Research innovative fundraising initiatives.
● Expand access to resources and food. Our CEO is a member of the steering committee in a grassroots project to end senior hunger, focusing on food insecurity in our local older adult population. The mission is to foster a network of stakeholders who connect, collaborate and cooperate in order to provide nutritious food to improve health and enhance the quality of life for seniors in our community.
Experience: Seniors First is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year demonstrating our expertise and adaptability to internal and external changes over the years. With roots going back to 1966, we have grown from a small information and referral agency to become the largest social services organization in Orange County, providing a full continuum of direct services to our community’s vulnerable elderly.
Assets: Our greatest assets by far are our dedicated long-time staff and senior leadership, many of whom have worked together for almost 2 decades, who demonstrate a passion for those we serve. Our volunteer board of directors is committed to our mission and continues to connect us to the community.
Partners: Seniors First has developed and maintained many long-term community partnerships, collaborations and volunteers enabling us to provide more cost effective services. As we have grown, so have the relationships that are the foundation to our longevity.
Fiscal Responsibility: As a steward of public and private funds, Seniors First is committed to transparency. We have extensive experience complying with specific reporting and monitoring criteria per funding source, assuring outputs and outcomes are on target.
There are several metrics Seniors First regularly monitors in order to track progress:
● Through client surveys we see high satisfaction results indicating that meals and social interaction not only contribute to a client’s ability to alleviate hunger and remain independent but also contributes to an improved quality of life. We will continue to track client satisfaction via surveys at regular intervals.
● A review of our waiting list numbers is a reminder of the increased need in the community for our services. At pre-determined intervals track the number of clients that have: 1) been added to the waiting list and 2) been removed from the list due to being added to services.
● Our ability to recruit and retain Meals on Wheels volunteers is testament to the connection they develop with the clients they serve. Many volunteers have been bringing meals to clients for over 15 years. There is, however, always a need to recruit new volunteers to increase their number, as there are open routes that are filled by staff. Track the total number of MOW volunteers at regular pre-determined intervals..
● Once our development plan is implemented an audit of fundraising milestones will determine future success in reaching our goals, including the ability to secure renewed and new individual donors, grant awards, foundation and corporate support.
● For more efficient programming, periodic evaluations along with feedback from client and caregiver surveys will reveal opportunities to improve processes.
With statistics like 1 in 6 seniors may not know where their next meal will come from, education and awareness of senior hunger is essential on all levels. With the help of a grant from the Rex V. Stevens and Dulciza Stevens Fund at the Central Florida Foundation, Seniors First was instrumental in bringing to completion a documentary on senior hunger, fittingly call “Leftovers”. The film premiered in Nov. 2015 with plans to continue screenings through 2016.
To help better understand and communicate the work we do in the community Seniors First is undergoing a rebranding which will launch to coincide with our 50th anniversary celebration in May 2016. The rebranding is meant to improve our messaging and motivate others to join our mission and take action.
In June 2015 we were awarded a competitive social services contract to provide Community Care for the Elderly in Polk County. This allows us the opportunity to expand our services reaching more elderly in need.
Advocating for increased support of community based care vs. institutionalization is imperative. There is a need to help functionally impaired seniors meet their basic daily living needs safely at home instead of receiving care in a more costly, Medicaid-funded nursing home. Programs like Meals on Wheels (MOW), vital to alleviating the problem of food insecurity, also cuts the growth of health care expenditures on older Americans. Every dollar invested in MOW can save up to $50 in Medicaid spending. In 2014, the average cost for Medicaid-funded nursing home care was $82,000 annually while the cost of the In-home Care Program (Community Care for the Elderly-CCE) was $4,680 annually, according to the Florida Council on Aging. The savings are staggering.
As the population of eligible seniors continues to grow, so does the need to be able to sustain current and new clients. Our clients remain on service until it is deemed they are no longer able to remain living safely in their own homes or until they pass away. We must balance all funding sources to assure we are not faced with having to remove clients from services, which would be catastrophic for most. This is a reality we are faced with every day.
The Meals on Wheels program addresses senior isolation and hunger. Poor nutrition and social support are root causes of a deteriorating quality of life that can lead to the need for long term care for older adults.
Meals on Wheels provides clients with a nutritious lunch and the option of a cold breakfast home delivered up to five days per week, nutrition education and case management services. We partner with 200 volunteers to deliver the meals, friendly visits and safety checks which provide the support homebound seniors need to thrive with dignity. The program has eight pick-up sites for 56 meal delivery routes across Orange County. These sites are designated places (donated space) where volunteers go to pick up meals for delivery. Case managers meet with seniors in their home to complete program enrollment and to connect them to additional community services. Since 2004, Emergency Meal Service provides seniors in crisis with quick access to meals for 30 days through private funding.
Increase the level of independence and capacity to remain at home, better health through improved nutrition and reduced isolation.
Each program has specific performance measures and outcomes identified. Success is monitored by client survey, administrative reporting, and monitoring by State Dept. of Elder Affairs, Heart of Florida United Way and local governments.
Emergency Meals. Living alone with no family in town, 66-year-old Mario V. was losing weight while trying to recover at home following open heart surgery. But he was having a hard time driving, and found it almost impossible to do grocery shopping and prepare meals. Mario had no one to cook for him or help him get food. Mario was feeling very alone, losing weight and depressed. His doctor referred him to a social worker to help him find a better solution, and that solution was Seniors First’s Meals on Wheels Emergency Service. For 30 days, Mario received home delivered meals, contact with a volunteer, and a case manager, Maribel, to assess and monitor his needs. As a result of this intervention, Mario has stopped losing weight, his health is improving, and he has a plan for ongoing support that will allow him to remain living at home. A warm meal and a friendly volunteer helped Mario’s mood improve significantly and his outlook return to being hopeful.
The In-home Care Program addresses the challenges of aging that can result in unmet daily living needs and create an unsafe home environment. These elderly individuals become at risk for neglect, abuse, exploitation, and premature institutional care at great cost to the individual and tax payers.
Enhanced quality of life at home, and nursing home placement is delayed or prevented. Prevent senior citizen abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Each program has specific performance measures and outcomes identified. Success is monitored by client surveys, administrative review, monitoring by State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
Phyllis lives alone and has no informal support. Her emergency contact is a cousin who lives out of state. She is able to manage her finances, shop for groceries as well as bathe, dress and use the bathroom independently. But, medical conditions along with depression have left 61-year-old Phyllis unable to keep up with necessary housekeeping chores. Her living conditions had spiraled out of control. Foul smells coming out of her Seminole County condominium caused Phyllis’ neighbors to contact Adult Protective Services. A deep cleaning brought Phyllis’ condo back to a suitable living environment. Phyllis is able to remain safely at home with just 2. 5 hours of help each week with chores and laundry. This weekly visit also helps to reduce the isolation Phyllis experiences living alone. Phyllis simply can’t believe that someone would want to help her, and enjoys her new relationship with case manager Wanda who monitors her ongoing needs.
The Stepping Stone Program addresses the need to help frail senior and disabled adults to perform essential tasks of daily living at home, with the help of safety devices and mobility equipment.
Stepping Stone Medical Equipment Bank collects medical equipment, donated by those who no longer are in need of these items. This medical equipment is reconditioned and made available to people in great need, either free of charge or at a nominal fee. Donated equipment can be recycled numerous times to help meet the medical needs of our community. Durable medical equipment increases safety, comfort and dignity, such as: bathing with a shower chair; or the ability to walk with the assistance of a walker or cane; or access to activities outside of the home with a motorized wheelchair. (AHCA License 1312981) Program Activities: Information & Referral, Counseling/Case Management, Accept Donations & Refurbish, Distribute & Educate, Recycle Metal.
Increase capacity for seniors and disabled adults to remain at home with enhanced quality of life.
Each program has specific performance measures and outcomes identified. Success is monitored by client survey, administrative reporting, and licensing and inspection by Agency for Healthcare Administration.
When Lisa’s wheelchair broke, she was left totally house bound. She couldn’t walk her dog or go grocery shopping. Lisa applied to her insurance company, but was told she had to meet a $900 deductible. She was not able to afford $900 on her disability income. Lisa was referred to Stepping Stone Medical Equipment Bank where she found relief in knowing she could be mobile again. Lisa received a “new-to-her” recycled wheelchair. Lisa shared, “two little words, thank you, just don’t express how happy you have made me.”
The Guardianship Program addresses the need to provide incapacitated individuals with a substitute decision maker. Guardianship is the legal process by which the court finds an individual’s ability to make decisions is impaired, therefore the court gives the right to make decisions to another person or entity.
The Seniors First Guardianship Program protects the rights and welfare of our clients known as “wards.” The program serves people who have a disabling condition making them unable to make informed decisions about care, treatment, and other life choices. This includes individuals with conditions related to the aging process such as dementia, people with a mental illness, people with developmental disability, people who have had a traumatic brain injury, or people with a physical handicap. As the Public Guardian for Orange and Seminole counties, the individuals appointed by the Courts to Seniors First are generally lacking the ability to pay for a private guardian and have no family or friends available or willing to accept the responsibility. Seniors First seeks private funds to provide clothing, personal care items, durable medical equipment, and dental services not covered through Medicaid and Medicare.
Protect the rights and welfare of clients for their enhanced quality of life. Prevention of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Each program has specific performance measures and outcomes identified. Success is monitored by the Courts and Dept. of Elder Affairs, Statewide Public Guardianship Office.
Pam was a highly skilled nurse at the hospital when a car crash in 1988 changed her life forever. She survived the accident, but 49-year-old Pam was a non-responsive quadriplegic in need of 24 hour skilled nursing care. Her first guardian was her father; he was a great dad who attended to Pam’s every need for 18 years. No longer able to care for his daughter, Pam’s elderly father turned over her guardianship to Seniors First in 2005. The Guardianship Program assigned a Case Manager to Pam to oversee her care at the nursing home. She was kept clean and fed, but it didn’t go unnoticed that Pam was still "in there" somewhere, even though she couldn’t verbalize anything. In March 2015, Seniors First facilitated Pam’s participation in a research project with the University of Central Florida to explore if new speech therapy methods could improve her communication with caregivers. And, guess what – it did! Pam was trained to use a non-verbal tool to respond to questions with a yes/no response. Such a simple act has significantly improved Pam’s quality of life. As the public guardian for Orange and Seminole counties, Seniors First is charged with taking care of the person and property of its incapacitated clients. It is our mission work to help achieve the highest quality of life possible in the least restrictive setting for those individuals in our care.
The Neighborhood Lunch Program addresses senior isolation and hunger by providing critical socialization in a congregate setting for mobile seniors. Poor nutrition and social support are root causes of a deteriorating quality of life that can lead to the need for long term care for older adults.
The Neighborhood Lunch Program will serve nearly 100,000 meals this year to nourish mobile seniors and help them feel connected within their own neighborhoods. A hot lunch is provided Monday through Friday at 11 neighborhood sites (donated space) across Orange County. Daily activities include socialization, educational and health presentations, exercise, shopping trips and games.
Each program has specific performance measures and outcomes identified. Success is monitored by client surveys, administrative review, and outside monitoring by Dept. of Elder Affairs, Heart of Florida United Way and Orange County Government.
Sharon moved to Orlando from Cincinnati to live with her daughter following the death of her husband of 46 years. Her daughter’s family welcomed Sharon to their home, but the family budget was stretched tightly. Sharon, like many seniors, was not regularly eating balanced meals – she was “getting by.” She was lonely for people her own age and depressed. Sharon saw the Seniors First van drive through her neighborhood and contacted us. Now at the East Orange Community Center, Sharon enjoys the hot lunch meal five days each week. Sharon says she really enjoys the fresh vegetables, especially the dark leafy greens, because she can’t afford to buy them. On her first day at the Neighborhood Lunch program, Sharon met Connie whose outgoing personality immediately made her feel welcome. Sharon and Connie continue to sit together for lunch and play bingo or dominoes. 72-year-old Sharon says she is no longer depressed and looks forward each day to going to her neighborhood lunch. Improved nutrition and social connections and activities are helping Sharon enhance her well-being and enjoyment of life. The Seniors First van that first caught Sharon’s attention has helped her overcome transportation barriers to grocery, pharmacy and other shopping and activities.
Seniors First, Inc. is a Florida non-profit corporation (“Seniors First”). The governance structure of Seniors First consists of a President, who also serves as the Executive Director, and a Board of Directors currently comprised of 19 volunteers. The Board of Directors has the traditional structure of a Board Chair, two Vice Chairs, Secretary, and a Treasurer. All members of the Board of Directors serve on one or more of the working committees, such as executive, finance, nominating, and development.
Seniors First strives for ethnic, cultural and age diversity in identifying and selecting members of the Board of Directors. This is important in helping Seniors First to understand the needs of its clients.
Seniors First follows a modified Carver model of Board governance. At our regular meetings of the Board, the senior staff updates the members on the progress of the many programs operated by Seniors First, its financial condition and issues at the national and state level that might impact on our programs. The Board meets formally six times a year. The Executive Committee, which is comprised of the CEO, Chairman of the Board, Vice Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, past Chairman, and four at-large members meet in the months when there is not a full Board meeting. Special meetings are called when necessary.
Prior to serving older adults, Ms. Lorenz worked in a variety of settings including drug and alcohol treatment, children services and medical social work. She has an undergraduate degree in Social Work from Ohio State University and a Masters degree in Guidance and Counseling from Rollins College. Ms. Lorenz also has extensive knowledge of care management, home health care and community based service systems.
Note: Dawn Phelps, our previous CFO for the past 2 years, has left Seniors First in early March 2017. She will remain on a consultant basis until our new CFO begins employment.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Central Florida Foundation 800 N Magnolia AvenueSuite 1200 Orlando, FL 32803 p. 407.872.3050 f. 407.425.2990