SEBRING — Ingra Gardner is excited about Nu-Hope Elder Care Services’ new building and that it will make for safer access for people coming in and offer more convenience for the staff.
But there is another reason the executive director is really looking forward to moving — no longer having to pay rent. Gardner said she pays rent personally and realizes that every month she is “throwing that money out the door.” She said that’s what Nu-Hope has been doing for 36 years in its location in a strip center on the south side of Sebring.
Gardner said the move into their own building puts them in “prime position” to better serve seniors in the county.
“That’s important,” she said, noting that she was looking at some demographic information that showed 42% of the population in Highlands County is over the age of 60. “We’re expecting that to grow...”
The new building will be located behind Dunkin’ Donuts and next to Nu-Hope’s thrift store. It is expected to be completed in November and then be operational in December.
When asked how much the building will cost, Gardner replied: “Considerably cheaper than rent. It was a long-term fiscal decision. It simply made sense.”
“It’s always great when you can invest and create an asset for the agency rather than always having those payments going to some one else,” said Laurie Murphy, resource development director. “It does help us financially.”
Gardner said the nonprofit has “a strong board of directors who are visionary.”
“They understand the long-term implications of this relocation project,” she said. “It’s better preparing us for the future of aging services.”
Gardner said they looked at different sites. She said safety was a key consideration in being somewhat off U.S. 27 because they didn’t want people to be immediately turning off the highway to get to the building.
Gardner said it was important to locate the building next to or in the vicinity of the thrift store. “Simply for the reassurance of our volunteers as well as our employees in the thrift store that they can simply come to the administrative office if there is an issue or a question that comes up,” she said. “Perhaps if there are seniors who come in and shop who need services, information, they can come on over, give us a call, will go over to address or answer any questions that senior may have.”
The new building will have a larger conference room. “We are going to have a conference room that will enable us to do trainings for all of our staff,” she said. “We’re pinpointing training and quality assurance for our in-home service workers so we’re elevating that to ensure that we’re able to include all of our in-home service workers. Whereas now there has to be two sessions.”
Murphy said it will allow more efficient use of space. “The main entrance will be very accessible for the many seniors that do come in and need our assistance at the front,” she said.
Services Nu-Hope provides include: home delivered and congregate meal assistance, help with bathing and personal care, homemaking, transportation, respite services, caregiver stipend and reimbursements, assistance obtaining consumable medical supplies and other forms of client and caregiver support.
The nonprofit, which has been assisting seniors and their families since 1975, relies on a variety of state and federal grants to fund the services. However, Nu-Hope must raise more than $350,000 each year. It does that through donations from individuals and community partners, proceeds from two thrift stores and fundraisers.
One of its major fundraisers is coming up in a few months. The 2019 Nu-Hope Speakeasy Soiree will be held Sept. 6.