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Mary Wooley, a jovial 80-year-old wearing 98 LIVING IN WINTER PARK a Christmas-red jacket, sits at the end of a long table at Day Break in Winter Park, where the chatter darts randomly from the quality of the snacks to the star power of Roy Rogers and his horse, Trigger. Day Break offers a chance for older people with memory impairment to socialize, exercise, play games, eat lunch and create works of art while still getting their medications. Some clients are quiet and inactive. But Wooley, a former cafeteria worker who now lives with her son, works hard to stay as sharp as possible. She knits, crochets and neatly embellishes the drawings in adult coloring books. She boasts that on her 80th birthday, her son taught her how to text. Two days a week, she visits Day Break. The lunch is OK here, she says, and she loves to stroll in the Sensory Garden. But it’s cutting up with others that she enjoys the most. “We talk and laugh — we’re forever laughing,” she says. “We have fun.” Day Break is run by Easter Seals, but its building, the Miller Center for Older Adult Services, is made available for $1 a year by the Winter Park Health Foundation, whose headquarters is next door. The low-key arrangement is typical of the foundation, which tends to operate in the background. It conducts research related to health and wellness issues that impact its service area: Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville. It also provides money and facilities for groups that deliver services. Contributions run the gamut, from $500 for a healthy-snacks cabinet at the Winter Park Community Center to $570,000 for mental-health counseling in schools. In 2014, the foundation estimates, its impact on the community — including facilities, grants and direct donations — totaled $7.6 million. “We want to be a partner with the community and other organizations rather than shine a spotlight on ourselves,” says Patricia Maddox, longtime president and CEO of the foundation, which has a staff of just 11. “People clearly view us as more of a collaborator.” But ducking the spotlight will be harder to do as the foundation embarks on the most visible endeavor in its 22-year history: a major wellness center adjacent to Winter Park Memorial Hospital, near Aloma and Lakemont avenues. The multiuse complex will be built on the site of the current Peggy and Philip B. Crosby YMCA Wellness Center — which pays the foundation 50 cents a year in rent — and three adjacent parcels. In partnership with the hospital, the foundation plans an 85,000-squarefoot building, a portion of which will house the Crosby Y, and a parking garage. The existing 25-year-old building will be razed later in 2016, and the confusing streets around the site will be untangled. The Crosby Y will gain more space for workouts and classes. A second pool will be dedicated to exercise and warm-water therapy, while a demonstration kitchen will help participants make more healthful meals. In the deliberate, data-driven style that characterizes everything it does, the foundation looked at wellness centers across the country and took the best elements of each in planning the $45 million project. Maddox says the emphasis of what’s known for now as Project Wellness will be helping the community deal with the “silver tsunami” — the aging of America — while preparing younger people to stay healthier as they grow older. Diana Silvey, the foundation’s program director for older adult services, envisions a place where you might consult a physician in the center’s clinical area and be told you need more fiber in your diet. Then, at the same place, you can learn to make healthier meals and sign up to exercise at the Crosby Y while you’re at it. “My hope for it is real integration,” Silvey says. The building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. When that happens, says foundation Vice President Debbie Watson, Winter Park will have a major wellness destination that will include the Crosby Y, the Miller Cen- Partricia Maddox, like the organization ���������������������������������������������������������������������������� and the foundation have made an incalculable impact on health in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville. PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL


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