August 21, 2020
By: Kirby Lavallee
TAMPA, Fla. – Today is National Senior Citizen Day, and every day, the phones are ringing off the hook at Saving Our Seniors in Tampa Bay. It’s not for medical emergencies, but rather for seniors who need a helping hand.
Kelli Casto started the local nonprofit 5 years ago. She is getting calls from seniors who need medical equipment to remain safe and independent in their own homes.
The organization gets an average of 45-calls per day, from senior citizens who have no one else to call on. That’s a lot of calls right? Well, they serve a 5-county region 7-days a week, so there is never a shortage of senior citizens needing assistance.
From medical beds to walkers and wheelchairs, Casto has them. At first she stored equipment in her apartment, then moved the abundance of items to fill two shipping containers that are busting at the seams. She now needs more space.
“Most of the items needed by our seniors are those above their $50 monthly threshold,” said Casto. Of the seniors they serve, most of them fall below the poverty line.
“Many people don’t realize that Medicare only covers three pieces of medical equipment every five years.”
In addition to the medical equipment, Casto took it a step further during the last several months of quarantine to deliver over 10,000 meals. In her world, there are no days off. Last year alone she had no days off as she dedicated all of her time off to her charity efforts.
Her goal and passion as an occupational therapist for a decade was to help her clients remain independent. The more and more seniors she saw in need, the more she became frustrated with the system and lack of support. That limitation led her to launch the nonprofit. What started as a way to give back, has turned into a passion project and charity helping thousands of seniors. To date, she has serviced a whopping 30,000 seniors with over 50,000 pieces of equipment. Casto remains busy daily answering this critical need. She says she fills in the gaps when other groups can’t help or when there are long waiting lists. Her goal is to turn the request into action fast. She doesn’t want her clients to wait for help. From answering the call to delivery of these goods, Casto stays extremely busy and is always in need of volunteers to help her with her mission.
How can you help Casto’s mission? She is in need of monetary donations to continue to make a difference to the thousands who rely on her. Covid-19 has increased the need and tapped her financial bottom line. She can also use items that are gently used and in working order to be able to continue to provide for the calls for help she receives. Something that sets her apart is that if she doesn’t have the item needed in stock, she makes the purchase for them with the donations of others who support her work. “This type of undertaking requires both equipment and funds to operate, I am always so grateful for the generosity of those who support this great cause,” she said. Currently, in addition to doing all of coordinating herself, she also does all of the legwork herself too. From answering the call to delivery of these goods, Casto stays extremely busy and is always in need of volunteers to help her with her mission.
If you would like to learn more about Saving Our Seniors or get involved, you can check out their website at https://savingourseniors.org/
UPCOMING EVENT: If you are a senior citizen in need or know someone who could use some help, Saving Our Seniors is having a fall prevention event on September 24th at the Sunshine Center in St. Petersburg. The nonprofit will be providing SOS boxes, grab bars, ADA ramps, and other great giveaways. For eligibility and information please call 727-537-6753.