60/20 and Counting … and Counting on You! Altrusa International of Gainesville celebrates 60 years in Gainesville while its signature project, the Altrusa House, celebrates 20.
For 60 years, the Gainesville community has been served by a quiet band of sisters (the first man was admitted in 2000), and you’ve probably never heard of them. The Altrusa International of Gainesville chapter began with the goal of identifying and meeting the needs of our local area through service and leadership. And boy, have they ever!
Altrusa started with community projects surrounding the subject of gerontology, including developing a directory of Services and Activities for Retired Citizens. Soon the club expanded its focus to include literacy projects, and through the years has adopted several schools (Metcalf, Prairie View, Waldo, Williams and Terwillegar Elementary), to provide intensive, extracurricular activities for students. Additionally, for more than 20 years, Altrusa coordinated the Read-In for Literacy —an event that brought in hundreds of volunteer readers to every K-2 class in the Alachua County School system.
Other notable endeavors include scholarships for under-privileged children to go to Camp Crystal; Stuff-the-Bus, where they collected school supplies, clothing, toiletries and other sundry items for the homeless children in the school system; co-hosted receptions for newly minted U.S. citizens at the naturalization ceremonies; established scholarships for international students studying at UF with the plan to return to better their own home community; and the list goes on and on and on.
More recently, Altrusa has continued its community work by supporting Terwilliger Elementary School with supplies, support for teachers and students and special projects. Each year, Altrusa recognizes students at all county middle schools with cash prizes for gains in literacy. House of Hope, Displaced Homemakers at Santa Fe, Women’s Answer Medical Clinic, Guardian ad Litem and Youth Chorus are a few other examples of Altrusa’s ongoing community support.
But the piece de resistance for the club is the creation of Altrusa House.
Altrusa House is a licensed adult day health care program that provides a safe and stimulating environment for adults with disabilities or special needs. It serves individuals who may have a physical or developmental disability, cognitive disorder (such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia) and those recovering from a stroke. Altrusa House serves, at capacity, 50 clients per day, some coming every day, and some just a couple days per week.
Altrusa House provides a protective environment and offers preventative, remedial and restorative services for elderly adults who need care during the day. Clients enjoy a variety of social and educational activities, including virtual field trips, visual arts and the outdoor sensory and butterfly gardens. This, of course, provides support for caregivers as well.
Altrusa is particularly proud to collaborate with the Veterans Administration to serve a large and growing number of local veterans. Additionally, with the Sam Proctor Oral History Project, these veterans can record and archive their memories, which are now at the Library of Congress.
The idea for this pioneering facility was borne from a community-needs assessment in 1983 by Dedicated Alternative Resources for the Elderly, Inc. (DARE), a group of community leaders concerned about the gaps in services for community-based frail adults. The intent was to develop a facility that would provide a safe, stimulating daytime environment for individuals who would otherwise be at risk for premature and costly nursing home placement.
By 1992, Altrusa had decided to make this dream a reality. And in just six years, the organization raised enough funds to open Altrusa House – without a mortgage. Now, they didn’t do this by themselves — the City of Gainesville donated the land, Altrusa partnered with Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and were also sponsored by many, many caring individuals.
The best part is that Altrusa House actually improves the lives of both the clients who come and the caregivers and families of the clients. A growing body of research demonstrates that social engagement, through the activities at Altrusa House, enhances mental health, self-esteem, physical health, cognitive functioning and purposeful living. It’s a win-win!
This year, Altrusa International of Gainesville celebrates 60 years of service to the community, and the club’s signature project, Altrusa House of Gainesville, celebrates 20 years of serving a distinctive adult population. To recognize these landmark anniversaries, on October 19 the public is invited for wine, hors-d’oeuvres, mingling and networking while Altrusa highlights and celebrates the past and shares future plans.
The folks of Altrusa are grateful that the Gainesville community continues to provide Altrusa House with volunteers and support for sponsorships, equipment and programs, but now they need a major push for enclosing a side porch to provide air conditioned and furnished space for its clients to enjoy, regardless of the Gainesville weather.
To complete the porch project and continue to offer client scholarships, Altrusa has set a goal of $60,000 for its 60/20 campaign. Your ticket to this event will provide happiness beyond the enjoyable evening. Please use this link for further information: bit.ly/Altrusa6020.
Please visit the website and Facebook page for more Altrusa altruism.
IF YOU GO
60/20 Celebrating Altrusa
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
UF Straughn Center
2142 Sheely Drive
If you’d like to join Altrusa International of Gainesville feel free to contact the club president (email on website): districtthree.altrusa.org/gainesville/.