Since her first day on the job Jenifer Brito, the newest member of Wellington’s Community Services Department, has been hard at work to make a difference in the lives of Wellington’s senior community.
Brito became the village’s new senior services specialist on March 19. She previously worked as the program services coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter for four years.
Through the Alzheimer’s Association, Brito worked closely with seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease and their families. She also worked to provide the general public with education about Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well direct them to available resources and tools to aid those affected by the diseases.
“I learned that there are so many people out there who don’t have all of the resources that they need,” Brito explained. “It was a great gift to be able to give resources to those who needed it.”
Brito’s ties to the senior community are also personal. While growing up in Ohio, she spent a great deal of her childhood around seniors, as her mother is a social worker who works to aid seniors in need of medical and living resources.
Brito became convinced that her calling was to help seniors when Alzheimer’s affected her grandmother.
“I watched my grandmother, who passed away recently, go through [Alzheimer’s], and that is really how I got into this field,” she said. “But I grew up all of my life around the senior population, so I really have a true passion for this.”
Brito aims to incorporate her personal passion and professional background to help senior citizens in Wellington. One of her main goals, specifically, is to efficiently and successfully spread the word about available senior resources.
“One in three seniors now are eventually going to develop Alzheimer’s disease. I hope that my knowledge base will help and really allow me to provide those who need resources with information on things such as support groups, home health agencies or available day programs,” Brito said.
During her first month of work, Brito has been focusing on the village’s senior transportation program, health and wellness programs, and ensuring seniors have the resources they need at home.
Transportation is a big focus point for Brito. She said that there are many improvements to be made in the already-in-place Senior Transportation And Rides (STAR) program. Currently, the STAR program offers qualifying seniors eight monthly round-trip rides to locations in Wellington free of charge.
Because of the STAR program’s success, Brito aims to expand the program to incorporate ride services, like Lyft and Uber, to provide seniors with dependable, safe and quick transportation. Including Lyft and Uber into the program would entail working out liability policies so that seniors who have problems getting in and out of vehicles have the opportunity to get rides as well.
“We have the STAR program, which has probably about 900 participants right now, and it’s a great program,” Brito said. “We are looking to move toward a program model that incorporates Lyft and Uber.”
Health and wellness is another priority. Brito hopes to encourage seniors to stay active and healthy while also encouraging them to socialize.
“I’m looking to work with the Mall at Wellington Green to do a walking group for seniors once a month,” she said. “It would be really good for them to walk around and move their bodies.”
Brito also detailed some of the evolving educational programs available to Wellington seniors.
“I want to incorporate fun and exciting things like music and art, something outside of the box,” she said. “I want to give seniors [tools] for them to see how [experiencing] different things can be beneficial to them.”
Helping seniors get the home improvements they need has also been on Brito’s agenda this month. Through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Brito is able to make efforts to get seniors the things they need in order to be able to stay in their homes, even if they cannot afford some necessary renovations.
“I’m working with someone right now who really needs a new air conditioning unit, and for a lot of seniors, these [necessities] can cost a lot of money, so we are able to help them based on their income level and household size,” Brito said.
Brito is excited to work with the Community Services Department. She explained that they have been working as a team in order to make the community better for the seniors and families of Wellington.
Wellington’s Public Information Officer Liz Nunez is happy to have Brito on the team.
“We are very excited, she said. “Jenifer’s enthusiasm and everything she brings to the table will make a big impact on senior services, and I think she will be able to get the word out on everything we have to offer.”
Brito will be attending all Wellington Senior Advisory Committee meetings and is available to provide more information at email@example.com. Learn more about Wellington senior programs at www.wellingtonfl.gov/seniors.