By Wendy Coschignano Ford on Thursday, February 1, 2024


As with all holidays, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) observes them and creates socialization programs and dedicated events to celebrate our seniors, along with the holiday itself. Valentine’s Day is no different. Though not an official ‘national holiday’ in the United States, it sure is a traditional one.

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is observed on Feb. 14, when candy, red roses, plenty of chocolate (if you are lucky), heart shaped balloons, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.

Since Valentine’s Day is such a HUGE tradition for Americans, we make sure our seniors, many who live alone and often experience isolation, can celebrate the tradition. Our planned festivities, on most occasions, include senior clients, numerous OCOA housing residents and team members within the Council on Aging. Our employees enjoy these celebratory events just as much as the seniors— many also live alone, and these gatherings increase socialization while helping decrease loneliness.

“According to the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan, a January 2023 poll stated 1 in 3 adults aged 50–80 reported feeling isolated in the past year. Luckily, these statistics represent a marked decline compared with the 56 percent who felt isolated in 2020 during the pandemic,” said Osceola Council on Aging Chief of Staff Johnola Morales. “These events are such therapy for our seniors. We love seeing them happy and celebrating with friends.”

“Everyone needs a little bit of love, that’s why these programs are so important not only to our seniors, but also our dedicated staff,” said Ana Arroyo, OCOA Congregate Dining Manager.

This upcoming Valentine’s Day event will be held on the OCOA campus, Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 8 a.m. to noon. All Senior Congregate Dining Club members from Kissimmee, St. Cloud, and Buena Ventura Lakes, along with Senior Day Care members, are welcome to attend.

Sponsored by Disney and the OCOA, the event will encompass a huge array of decorations, games, music, entertainment, an overabundance of food, along with Disney volunteers to make the day magical and extra festive.

This event, like others held at our Senior Congregate sites, provides a setting for consistent nutritious, and healthy meals.

“Meals are prepared fresh daily and contain one-third of the required daily allowance while also complying with guidelines from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs,” Arroyo added.

Largely funded under the Older Americans Act, (with a portion of local funding), Senior Dining services are consistently open five days a week, from 8 am to noon; dining membership is open to anyone age 60 and over. There is no charge for meals, though donations can be made if participants choose to do so.

So, come and share an enjoyable morning of conversation, music, games, and a special meal with us. We look forward to seeing many familiar faces at our upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration.

Finally, our Senior Congregate Dining site at BVL has openings for new members. For residents of BVL who would like more information on membership or want to attend this upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration at our Kissimmee location, call Arroyo at 407-9339527, or e-mail