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Group to help elderly in need

A group of community volunteers met Thursday morning to solidify plans to help Hudson's older residents who may not be able to care for themselves.

Project CARE (Community Action to Reach the Elderly) is a coalition of professionals acting as advocates of senior citizens.

"The goal of the coalition is to bring in people who normally are not dealing with the elderly," said Peggy Darragh, CARE coordinator and director of the Hudson Multipurpose Senior Center. She said she hopes to include people from the areas of medicine, education, business, religion, law enforcement and local government.

The Hudson coalition is one of three in the Tampa Bay area. The others focus on St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Hudson was chosen based on demographics _ Hudson has 9,336 people older than 65, according to the 1990 Census. Darragh estimates that 1,300 of those people are vulnerable.

John Sniezek, chief executive officer of CARES Inc. (Community Aging & Retirement Services) and Darragh's supervisor, said his group's job is to find isolated elderly people and steer them to the services they need.

"We didn't have to reinvent the wheel," he said. "There are agencies and services out there for basically every need."

Various priorities were discussed at Thursday's meeting, including transportation services, volunteer recruitment and grocery shopping. Plans were made for raising money and setting goals.

Members also chose a steering committee. Members include:

Dian Ash, community relations director, Charter Hospital of Pasco.

Madeline Caparo, community relations director, St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute, Tarpon Springs.

Jean Looney, senior advocacy attorney, Bay Area Legal Services.

Jerry McKenna, county library director, Hudson branch.

Karen Richardson, registered nurse and teacher, Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Carolyn Rios, registered nurse, James A. Haley VA Hospital.

Marilyn Rupp, program monitor, Area Agency on Aging.

Deacon Robert Simpson, St. Michael's Church, Hudson.

Lee Sprimont, Hudson Rotary Club.

Phil Stemmer, senior center volunteer.

Bob Upton, vice president, Barnett Bank, Fivay Road branch.

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