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Service takes stress out of moving

Frank Zolfo looked around the rooms of his parents' new apartment in amazement. Moving their entire household from St. Petersburg to Largo had been accomplished in a single day.

Wednesday morning, 94-year-old John Zolfo and his 86-year-old wife Ida left the condominium they had lived in for the past 15 years. They were moving into a smaller apartment in an exclusive retirement community with services they didn't have before.

While their furnishings, clothing and housewares were being unpacked, the couple rested and watched television in an apartment a few doors away. By 5:30 that evening, they walked into their new home. The furniture was polished, their clothing was hanging in the closets, the kitchen was set up and the beds were made.

The move to Pinecrest Place was orchestrated by Beth Warren's Welcome Home service that specializes in moving and resettling seniors, professionals and families. Each move is customized to the needs of the client.

Welcome Home did everything for the Zolfo's except hang the pictures, Warren said.

Frank Zolfo said his parents moved because "it was getting difficult for them to remain 100 percent independent. Pinecrest offers services that will fill their needs as they come up." He said his father has mobility problems that were made more difficult when he recently lost the sight of one eye.

The move went without a hitch, he said.

"We just moved from New Jersey to North Carolina, Zolfo said. "It took us four months to unpack. What they've done here _ it's extraordinary."

Warren said she charges an hourly rate of $25. The Zolfo bill came to approximately $1,100, she said, plus $400 for the moving company that transported the furnishings.

The company's services include arranging for an estate or moving sale, installing space saving devices and shelving, contacting the utilities associated with the move _ electric, telephone, cable _ and starting newspaper delivery.

Welcome Home also works with Joe Falanga, owner of PakMail-Largo Mall, for shipping items ranging from antique furniture to fragile crystal.

"When people are downsizing, they often ship things like china cabinets and crystal to other family members," Warren said. "Joe has people who are experts in packing and shipping. A few months ago, we shipped an entire apartment to three different places."

Warren said she formed the company six years ago, not long after a neighbor asked for her help in arranging an estate sale after his wife passed away.

Moving entire households doesn't intimate her, said Warren, 45.

"I've moved a lot all my life and lived around seniors all my life," she said. "I lived with my grandparents in the summers, working for them during wheat harvesting."

Her staff, often mothers with school-aged children, works on a part-time, flex-time basis.

"They provide me with a list of days they are available, and I work around their schedule," she said. "I also try to follow the Pinellas County school schedule. I'm closed for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays."

Warren and her husband, Bryan, moved here in 1989 from Roanoke, Va. They have two daughters, one is a high school senior and the other is a sixth-grader. Warren operates Welcome Home from her house.



Welcome Home

585-7271 (business), 586-5232 (fax), www.welcomehome

+ The business specializes in the packing, unpacking and relocation needs of seniors, professionals and families on the move.

+ "Some people want everything done for them, from drawing a floor plan for furniture placement, to moving, unpacking and completely setting up the household, even hanging the pictures on the walls. Others just want us to unpack the boxes and they put the items away." _ Beth Warren, owner-operator of Welcome Home.

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