Donna Dunio became the first paid employee of Longboat Island Chapel’s Aging in Paradise Resource Center (AIP) in October, when she was chosen from 102 applicants as the new position of executive director.
Dunio is an 18-year Sarasota resident who has served as senior director of resource development for American Red Cross Southwest Florida Chapter.
AIP is not a health care facility, however, it aims to serve as a liaison between individuals facing age-related issues and the organizations and services available.
The Longboat Observer recently spoke to Dunio about aging issues and her vision for AIP.
What’s happening at the Aging in Paradise Resource Center (AIP)?
The No. 1 thing we’re doing is creating community partnerships with anyone who wants to provide education, support and entertainment.
We had our first bingo this week and will offer tai chi, activities for people with Parkinson’s disease and neuroexercise classes.
We recently had a workshop about Obamacare’s impact on Medicare and opened it up to an hour of questions. We’ve partnered with Longboat Key Fire Rescue, and Chief Paul Dezzi is going to do a program where people can go inside a fire truck and an ambulance.
What unique challenges does aging on Longboat Key present?
First of all, we are in paradise, and whatever our situation, it’s made better by being in this community.
The longer driving can become difficult … Also, someone may have just lost a spouse of 60 years and now they’re living down here by themselves. People bond fairly quickly here, and if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have your immediate family here, you need to get out and be part of your community.
Does AIP take a position on whether a permanent medical facility is needed on Longboat Key?
I’m not well versed enough to discuss the issue, but we certainly would welcome anything that would enhance good medical care.
What are your long-term goals for AIP?
If we could continue to grow, I would like to fully utilize all of the facility from early in the morning until evening with all the things people need, want and enjoy — anything from dancing to computer classes and iPhone lessons to information for people who need caregivers or have Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, for example.
It really is a program that helps seniors and their families navigate the future.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]