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Move day arrives for CARES

CARES has finally made it home. Members of Community Aging and Retirement Services Inc. moved into their new headquarters Monday, nearly two years after ground-breaking ceremonies for the center.

The 8,500-square-foot building at 7505 Rottingham Road is twice as large as the former location in downtown New Port Richey. In addition to office space, it houses conference and community rooms.

CARES is a not-for-profit service organization that runs programs geared toward Pasco County retirees and older residents. Its programs include Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Care and Telephone Reassurance.

The move had staff members excited, said Chris Lecher, supervisor of support services.

"It's wonderful," she said. "It means bigger space."

The increase in space brings with it an increase in programs. While the center still will serve its older clientele, it also will offer classes aimed at younger people. Ms. Lecher said she saw a need for such programing after noticing that there wasn't much for her young children to do locally.

"They are always bored," she said. "There is no place they can go to do something constructive."

So far, the center is offering a course on cartooning aimed at students in junior high and above, Ms. Lecher said. Other classes are planned.

Construction of the building took longer than expected because of problems with the land, Ms. Lecher said. CARES officials had to get the property rezoned and a sewage lift station moved before construction began, she said. Moving the lift station pushed the project back months, Ms. Lecher said.

The center was built with a $275,000 state grant and a land donation from Pasco County, Ms. Lecher said. Center operating expenses, projected at nearly $50,000 next year, will be paid through donations and fund-raisers, she said.

Although the staff already has moved into the new building, grand-opening festivities will not begin until March 1. The ceremony starts with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. and a tour of the new building. The party continues March 2 with a health fair, where information and screenings will be offered.

For information on CARES programs or to volunteer at the center, call (813) 862-9291.