osceola council on aging 50th anniversary galaWith 2022 more normalized and the pandemic primarily in our rearview mirror, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) continues to move forward with the first of many new service program expansions and community offerings. Accordingly, we are excited to announce another first which is our 50th Anniversary Gala, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1.

The anniversary celebration plans include hosting more than 300 community leaders from Osceola County and surrounding areas to celebrate the Council’s multi-decades of successes while highlighting our future initiatives.

“With such an exciting future in front of us, and many years of history behind us, we have chosen to host a formal anniversary fundraising event,” said Belinda Olivera, Council on Aging Vice President of Marketing and Development. “We are planning for the largest event in our 50-year history to celebrate our past, our present, and what the community can expect from our work in the future.”

Though our 50th year anniversary was officially in 2021, we were unable to celebrate appropriately due to the upheaval in events caused by the pandemic. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to be at the helm of this amazing organization now in its 51st year and am excited to celebrate that history with the Osceola community.

With our multiple successes over five decades, it would be difficult to go into detail of each social service initiative, but I want to quickly highlight programs which impact the residents of our community the most.

Between nutrition services, housing, weatherization, adult daycare and Community Action programs, the Council supports more than 2,200 residents per week with an annual investment into our community of more than $12.5 million.

Historically, the OCOA began coordinating nutrition services in the late 1960’s when a small group of volunteers wanted to support elderly friends and neighbors who were homebound. Those volunteers created a home delivery meal service with the capacity to serve 25 seniors and disabled adults with food prepared by the St. Cloud Hospital. Once the Council was incorporated as a private, non-profit, they began the journey toward becoming an agency with comprehensive programs aimed at helping the elderly. Housed in one room of the old Osceola County Courthouse, there was minimal staff and a small team of volunteers.

More than 35 years later, the Barney E. Veal Center opened in July 2007, at 700 Generation Point in Kissimmee: the site of the OCOA campus. With every passing year, we continue to grow in services. As an example, in late 2021, we acquired a second food pantry in St Cloud, giving us a brick-and-mortar location to administer nutritional programs to the east side of the County.

As we prepare for this anniversary celebration, we are reminiscent of our history; we are proudly humbled in stating that we owe our myriad of successes to the thousands of generous, community members who have worked with and supported the Council throughout our more than five decades, including our team of Council employees and volunteers who serve our clients each day. Our focus is and will continue to be to provide exemplary services enabling independence and self-sufficiency for seniors and disabled adults in the Osceola community and Central Florida region.

The 50th Anniversary Gala celebration will be held at “The BEV,” located at the newly renovated Barney E. Veal Center. The formal evening will host an Italian themed dinner with live music, an awards ceremony encompassing our many corporate partners and volunteers, both silent and live auctions inclusive of vacation packages, luxury trips, art, and interesting collectable items. Corporate (and individual) tickets are available for the event with all proceeds going to the many OCOA programs including, nutritional support, indigent services, the health clinic, and family assistance.

Presenting sponsors include IBCK Church and Goosehead Insurance; our Gold Sponsor is Toho Water; Silver Sponsors include Prescriptions Unlimited, Advent Health, United Healthcare and OUC.

We hope to see you at our much-anticipated anniversary event. If you cannot attend, please think about event sponsorship or donation opportunities for our silent auction. As a reminder, the OCOA is a 501(c)3, nonprofit, private charitable organization so donations and sponsorships are tax exempt.

For more information on tickets or advertising opportunities, contact Olivera, at oliverab@ osceola-coa.com, or (407) 933-9534.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Tuesday, May 17, 2022