Rummans fights for seniors
NORTH PORT -- When it comes to Florida's senior population, Laura
Rummans has made it a priority to back up what she says with the
The 68-year-old former recreational therapist can drop statistics
into casual conversation without making you feel like you're being
"One-fourth of Florida's population are seniors," she said, "and
I want to make sure seniors get everything they deserve."
Rummans sits on various boards in the area dedicated to improving
the quality of life for seniors in the area.
"I think if you rest, you rust," she said.
Her current mission is to help push Communities for a Lifetime,
Bush's initiative "to assist cities, towns and counties in
planning and implementing improvements that benefit the lives of all
their residents, youthful or senior," according to the state
Department of Elder Affairs Web site.
"The goal is to make it possible for people to stay in their
homes -- and out of a nursing home or assisted living facility --
for as long as they can," Rummans said.
For example, contractors are asked to build homes with walkers
and wheelchairs in mind, while merchants are encouraged to provide
bigger signs and wider aisles in stores.
Rummans is on the board of Senior Solutions of Southwest Florida,
a seven-county agency that helps and informs seniors about state
programs like SHINE, which offers free Medicare and health insurance
education and counseling, as well as assistance with the state's new
prescription drug plan.
"A lot of seniors come here and don't know what's available,"
To help build awareness, Rummans writes a semi-regular column for
the Sun on "positive aging."
Rummans said area seniors are not just interested in helping
themselves. She works part-time for the Charlotte County Retired and
Senior Volunteer Program, which finds service opportunities for
people 55 and older. One of her proudest efforts there is helping
with "Decisions to Win," which pairs volunteers with at-risk
students to help them make important decisions.
Rummans, who sits on Sarasota County's Senior Advisory Council,
said she hopes North Port will create a senior center, such as the
one in Venice.
The city, she added, should also make better use of facilities
like the George Mullen Center, provide more "senior-friendly" parks
and build more sidewalks and more shaded bus stops.
Public transportation, she said, is critical to the city's senior
population. She and other senior advocates hope the county will
increase bus routes in the city.
"When you lose your car," Rummans said, "you lose your
(Look for Laura Rummans' column on page 2 of today's Our Town.)
You can e-mail Garry Overbey at
By GARRY OVERBEY