Congressman Sam Gibbons honored at event

05/14/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this week, the Board of trustees for Medicare and Social Security said that those two major federal entitlement programs face insolvency quicker than previously documented.

The report illustrates what is being called the Graying of America, as the tens of millions of baby boomers get older and less healthy.

Former Tampa Congressman Sam Gibbons referenced these facts this morning while accepting an award from the group Seniors in Service.

Hundreds gathered at the Palma Ceia Country Club in South Tampa for a fundraising breakfast celebrating Seniors in Service’s 25th anniversary. The organization’s mission is to recruit, trains and places volunteers to help children succeed and elders remain independent.

It initially began matching foster grandparents with kids, who need adult influence, and currently has 350 seniors acting in such a role.

Gina Space is the chair elect for Seniors in Service. She mentioned a couple of programs that the organization sponsors.

Sandra Sierra has taught at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School for 37 years. She says the student population has changed dramatically over the years, with a good majority of the kids coming to her school from Latin America and Asia. In some cases, she says, neither the kids nor their parents speak much English. Sierra says the Seniors in Service Program helps them tremendously.

One of the newest programs that the organization offers is called Spic & Span for Seniors, in which volunteer groups help clean seniors housing.

Barbara Van Meter manages Acorn Trace Apartments, a 100-unit housing complex for the elderly in North Tampa. She says Seniors in Service has never let her down. Van Meter said in her job as a manager of senior housing, she’s seen the problems with low income adults worsen in recent years.

Several current and former local politicians were in attendance at today’s event. For more information, go to

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