Pine Hills Seniors Inc. Wins Prestigious Award for Exceptional Service to Seniors
The Florida Council on Aging recently recognized Pine Hills Seniors Inc. for its work helping Seniors in the Orlando area Stay Active, Independent, and Involved when it honored them with its 2021 Quality Senior Living Award (QSLA) for Public Service. This annual awards program, sponsored by Florida Power and Light (FPL), recognizes professionals and volunteers who significantly impact the lives of Florida Seniors. Now in its 40th year, the QSLA program considered many individuals and organizations that focus on Seniors in service to Seniors, youths in service to Seniors and Seniors in service to youths. The story of Pine Hills Seniors Inc. is one of an exceptional organization of volunteers that identifies unmet needs of Seniors in its community and does its best to fulfill them.
In 2007, Compton Belle, Sheila Belle, Oliver Batson, Gloria Coles and Clarence Matthews, formed Pine Hills Seniors Coming Together. There was no funding to support this project, but the first President of Pine Hills Seniors, Sheila Belle undertook the role of launching Pine Hills Seniors as a labor of love, motivated by a desire to continue working on aging matters. She used her over two decades of experience at the award-winning New York’s Area Agency on Aging, Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services to lead the new organization’s growth. It took a major step in 2015 when it became Pine Hills Seniors Inc. and adopted its mission to Empower our Seniors to Live Active, Healthy Lives! Its motto is "We Share Because We Care."
Pine Hills Seniors (PHS) is an all-volunteer 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Having no traditional staff limits its programming capacity. In comments for this article, President Belle said, “Thanks to our membership of caring, sharing overachievers, we provide elder-friendly opportunities to socialize, meet peers, foster a sense of belonging, satisfy information needs, be active, contribute in self-affirming ways, be involved, and be engaged. I am also thankful for special projects support and advice from former Board member, Ms. Ona Taylor; photo journal contributions of Board member, Ms. Gail Bradshaw; Planning Committee members; mission-critical direction of Board members; and the interest of the community in activities such as weekly meetings, special events, gardening, exploring new hobbies, and volunteering. PHS has had 102 active seniors who met weekly for programs and activities targeted to attendees’ interests (currently suspended due to COVID-19). Members continue to civically engage in such ways as neighborhood cleanup and distributing food to the needy, despite pandemic limitations. PHS is grateful to its members and partners for their contributions to earning the 2021 Quality Senior Living Award.