Viva Church Creates Community for Seniors
Fueled by personal experience, a Florida pastor and his sister are leading their church in launching a new ministry aimed at providing community to senior citizens.Nestled in the heart of Orlando, Florida, Viva Church serves a diverse demographic and is expanding its outreach once again to resource a large population in their community.
Viva Church is finalizing a permit with the county to launch an adult daycare for senior citizens, a need that they have seen grow in recent years.
“Florida is the retirement capital, and we have a lot of boomers starting to retire,” says Abner Adorno, lead and founding pastor of Viva Church and district superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District .
“This group still wants their independence so they are either living alone, often very isolated, or they are living with adult children who are balancing careers, young families, and then adding the care of their parents,” he says.
“It becomes a lot to balance, especially when you want to help keep them active so they stay mentally and physically fit,” says Bertis Negron, sister to Abner Adorno.
A few years ago, Adorno’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He and his sister slowly became aware of the struggles facing adults that find themselves becoming caregivers to elderly parents.
“We knew mom needed to spend time with people her own age and stay mentally stimulated throughout the day,” Negron says.
Negron, who had retired from her 36-year career at the sheriff’s office where she had worked primarily with an older demographic, gained an understanding of the need for seniors to feel that they had a community to which they belonged. This is exactly what Viva Village hopes to accomplish.
Viva Church purchased a five-acre property behind the church which came with a 3,500sq foot home and a pool. Although renovations had to be made to allow for ramps to be installed and enhanced privacy and safety features, the at-home atmosphere remains.
“We wanted it to look like a home, not an institution,” Adorno states. “We also wanted to be able to accommodate many of the activities that seniors would want to engage in at home such as a tv room, a reading area, a garden for them to grow herbs and vegetables, and an outdoor area to relax and enjoy the scenery,” he says.
Viva Church has teamed up with several community partners as well. These partnerships will allow for enhanced community accessibility. Medical professionals are providing a vehicle for transportation of clients to and from doctor appointments, a local gym has offered free memberships with transportation to and from the gym, and there are plans to have on-site medical care as needed.
With less than six months from the grand opening, Adorno, Negron, and the congregation of Viva Church are finally seeing a dream that they have had for a long time come to fruition.
“We have already had upwards of 60 people show an interest in the program and we are optimistic that we will be at that capacity within our first quarter of operation,” Adorno states.
Other things that Viva Village plans to offer are health classes, movie day, trivia day, charades, water aerobics, and educational classes for caregivers. Additionally, clients will be invited to be part of a weekly service at Viva Church called “the Classics,” which is a traditional style of service specifically catering to seniors.
Adorno also understands the value in multigenerational relationships. Living Word Academy is a school, kindergarten through high school, that is run by Viva Church. Both he and Negron see an opportunity for unique relationships to build between the children in the school and the clients at Viva Village.
“We would love to have the kids come over for holidays or special occasions to sing or do another activity with the seniors,” Negron says. “Building multigenerational relationships would be a benefit for everyone,” she states.
Both Adorno and Negron feel that the entire project has been God-ordained. Through dreams birthed in their hearts to doors that were opened along the way, the brother and sister duo state that they hope this Viva Village home becomes a life-giving center for both seniors and their adult children alike.
Adorno and Negron’s mother passed away in September 2023 but her legacy lives on in the ministry of her children.
“Through her passing,” Negron states, “I feel that my drive for this project has been fueled and the special place in my heart for our elderly population has grown.”