Positively Osceola asked a number of positive leaders in the community to share their hope and plans for the new year, and how we can encourage and support each other in 2023. We asked Wendy Ford, President/CEO of the Osceola Council On Aging, to share her hope and outlook for 2023.

As we plunge into 2023, it’s obviously important to look towards the future.  Similarly, it’s just as important to look to the past and remember all the blessings which have been bestowed. The past few years have been challenging.  Sadly, many have had to endure illness, personal tragedy, natural disasters, and even death.  But we have persevered to become not only stronger individuals, but also, a stronger community. 

I’m proud to say, The Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) has continued to be an ever-growing, ever-expanding, stronger, more resilient organization. Despite the last couple of years of pandemic upheaval, we have persevered through obstacles with great outcomes which have constituted overall growth in these times of inflation and economic crisis.   

Our proudest accomplishment by far, has been our ability to increase low-income housing opportunities for Osceola residents. Through a HUD grant, we are in the planning processes of building a 60-unit, single story, housing complex in Buena Ventura Lakes (BVL), along with an additional 16-unit complex, fiscally supported by Osceola County, also in BVL.    

In addition to housing opportunities, we have increased our ability to better support utility and rental assistance for community members.  We have also expanded our adult day care center, and our Meals on Wheels program to include seniors who had previously been on waiting lists.

Finally, we were recognized by Ron Governor DeSantis for our crisis intervention to support residents heavily affected by Hurricane Ian and Nicole. In actuality, we were able to not only feed those in need in the Osceola community, but also individuals who were displaced from across the state of Florida.

We are thrilled to have been able to thrive during 2022 with programmatic opportunities to do what we do best; to be a vital part of this community while increasing the capacity and funding to take care of more seniors, disabled individuals, and families living in poverty. 

Happy New Year and Blessings to all for 2023!! 

Wendy Ford

President/CEO, Osceola Council On Aging