Council on Aging Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Council on Aging Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Service to Seniors and Caregivers in St. Johns County, Florida

This year, local nonprofit St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA) celebrates 50 years of service to older adults and caregivers in St. Johns County, Florida. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was founded 50 years ago by local concerned citizens with a focus on providing essential nutrition, transportation, and independent living support services for our community’s elders.

Since serving the first home-delivered and congregate meals to seniors in 1974, COA has been on a journey to empower our community’s elders to live their best lives at every age. Now with six senior centers and lifelong learning centers, four memory care locations, and transportation to all 600 square miles of the county, COA is able to offer older residents a much wider array of life enhancing opportunities thanks to the continued support of the St. Johns County community.

“As we have throughout our history, we continue to pursue opportunities to provide greater dignity, independence, social inclusion, and well-being for those we serve,” explained COA Executive Director, Becky Yanni. “Whether it is a meal prepared with love, a strong hand to help with tasks around the house, or an engaging program to stay active, healthy, and connected, we are dedicated to supporting quality of life and independence for local seniors.”

While volunteers provided transportation for seniors in the early days, COA now offers door-to-door paratransit transportation services with a fleet of specialized vehicles. In 2000, COA also established the Sunshine Bus Company, providing the first public transportation services for the entire community as the St. Johns County Government contracted provider.

COA created their Prescription Assistance Program in 1999 to assist seniors in obtaining low or no-cost prescription medications through pharmaceutical company programs. The program has saved St. Johns County seniors over $32 million since it began.

In 2003, COA created the Sunshine Center, licensed by AHCA #9081, a therapeutic adult day care facility in St. Augustine serving adults with special needs, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other disorders. The center also provides crucial respite time for caregivers.

With seed money from a legacy gift received from St. Augustine resident Mary Peck, COA constructed River House in 2010, a lifelong learning center set on the Matanzas River in downtown St. Augustine. On nights and weekends, the waterfront facility serves as a five-star wedding and events venue, proceeds of which will fund additional programs and services for seniors.

Also in 2010, COA created IMEP™, its groundbreaking Integrative Memory Enhancement Program. The popular classroom program is now offered at four locations throughout the county, including the Ponte Vedra Memory Care Center, which COA established in 2015. Outside agencies and facilities that serve seniors throughout Florida and the U.S. have also subscribed to the program since 2015, when IMEP™ was trademarked and copyrighted.

These are but a few highlights from a 50-year history dedicated to meeting the needs of St. Johns County seniors and caregivers. Over the course of this anniversary year, COA will continue to highlight the visionary individuals in our community who have made COA what it is today. To follow these inspiring stories, please visit www.coasjc.org/coa-50th-anniversary.

“We would not be where we are today without your support,” Ms. Yanni shared. “Thank you to all of our champions – our donors, funders, volunteers, staff, and community partners – for supporting our important mission. Together, the future for seniors and caregivers – our future – will grow ever brighter into the next 50 years and beyond.”

To learn more about COA’s services and programs for older adults and caregivers, visit our website at www.coasjc.org or call us at (904) 209-3700.

Special thanks to our friends at Hybrid Design, Inc. for creating COA’s 50th Anniversary logo.