CARES has been providing services to older persons and their families since 1973. The CARES story is one of growth and innovation.
In 1973, there were no programs and services available for seniors in Pasco County. Concerned about the adverse affect on the quality of life for local older adults, a group of seven volunteers incorporated the Pasco County Council on Aging as a private not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) organization dedicated to advocacy on aging. Initially, there was no paid staff and expenses were covered by contributions that were kept in a shoebox closely guarded by two dedicated volunteers.
Within a year of its founding, the Council grew to 53 volunteers and received funds for the implementation of a county-wide information and referral service and for the establishment of a transportation service for seniors (subsequently spun off to the county). From 1979 to 1981, three multipurpose senior centers were opened to provide education, social and recreational opportunities for older adults.
The first Executive Director was hired in 1984 to head a staff of 60, as the Council assumed responsibility for Federal and State home care programs for the elderly. Four years later, the agency adopted a new name more indicative of its mission – Community Aging and Retirement Services, Inc., d/b/a/ CARES. The CARES Home Health Agency was licensed in 1989 and 50 home health aides joined the CARES team. Through the years, CARES home care services continued to develop. A free medical clinic for low income and uninsured seniors was opened in 1992. The agency was certified as a Medicaid provider in 1994 and as a Medicare provider in 1999. Three more senior enrichment centers were opened. CARES centers offer wellness, educational, social and recreational programs. Adult Day Health Centers in New Port Richey and Dade City were opened in 2006.
Throughout the years, CARES mission and service focus has been on elder residents and their families in West Central Florida. We have grown into an organization of over 150 staff members, and more than 500 volunteers. Our mission is to promote quality of life and independence for adults through health, social, and supportive services. To achieve that goal, we work with health professionals, families, volunteers, donors and businesses who want elders to age positively and with dignity.