Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Shameless tribute to JOE BOLES on Council on Aging website

Shameless tribute to JOE BOLES on Council on Aging website:  

COA Reflects on 50 Years of Service to Seniors and Caregivers in St. Johns County

Dear Friends,

For nearly 50 years, Council on Aging (COA) has been on a journey to empower our community’s elders to live their best possible lives at every age. Since serving our first congregate meals and delivering our first home-delivered meals in 1974, our focus has been on providing essential nutrition, transportation, and independent living services for our community’s elders. Now with six senior centers and lifelong learning centers, four memory care locations, and transportation to all 600 square miles of our county, we are able to offer older residents a much wider array of life enhancing opportunities than when we started COA.

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. 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 seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County.

In the next year, we will be highlighting some of the visionary individuals in our community who have made COA what it is today. These visionary community members have enabled COA to change lives for generations of local elders and caregivers. To follow these inspiring stories, please visit this page over the coming months.

We would not be where we are today without your support. Thank you to all of our champions – our funders, donors, staff, volunteers, and community partners – for supporting our important mission.

Together, our community will grow ever brighter into the next 50 years and beyond.

Becky Yanni, Executive Director

In Service to Seniors – Joe Boles

As we reflect on the past 50 years, we present conversations with some of the members of our community who have been instrumental in enabling COA to evolve to meet the growing needs of elders and caregivers in St. Johns County.

Joe Boles, Elder Law Attorney and President of COA’s Board of Directors

Elder law attorney Joe Boles began his service on the Board of Directors of St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA) in 1988.  Ten years later, he became Chairman of the Board. Back in those early days, Council on Aging was located in a small building on Old Mission Street in downtown St. Augustine, now home to the Limelight Theater. 

Over the ensuing years of his tenure on the board, Joe has seen Council on Aging evolve dramatically to meet the needs of a growing population of seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County. COA went from operating one senior center, to operating six senior and lifelong learning centers, a memory care center, and an adult daycare center.  COA’s services expanded to include, not just Meals on Wheels, but prescription assistance, IMEP memory enhancement, transportation and paratransit services for St. Johns County, and independent living services that enable seniors to remain living in comfort in their own homes for as long as possible. In 2012, COA completed the ambitious project of constructing River House, a beautiful lifelong learning center set on the Matanzas River in St. Augustine. River House serves adults age 18 and up during the day, and serves as a 5-star wedding and events venue on weekends and evenings.

St. Augustine Beginnings

Joe’s ties to the St. Augustine community go all the way back to 1968, when, at 16, he relocated with his family to Vilano Beach from North Carolina. As a student at St. Augustine High School, Joe’s focus was on studying art and hitchhiking to the beach with his surfboard (not an easy task even then.) He graduated in 1970 as class president, and went on to study commercial art at the University of Florida, earning a Bachelor’s degree in advertising design. 

After college, Joe worked as a cartographer for an environmental consulting firm in Gainesville. He also became involved in serving the Gainesville community, creating a therapeutic walking trail for developmentally challenged individuals and founding a nonprofit teen disco downtown. 

A Turning Point

Joe’s path changed dramatically one day when he received a visit from a local police officer asking him for the keys to his car. 

“I said, ‘Why do you want them?’” Joe recalled. “He told me there was a supplier who claimed there was an unpaid bill at the local disco, which had since closed.”

“I realized I didn’t know the first thing about the law,” he recounted. “So I called the only lawyer I knew in the Gainesville telephone book, a Mr. Bates.”

Upon hearing the details, Mr. Bates struck up a deal with Joe:  he would help Joe resolve this legal issue if Joe would trade him the disco’s P.A. sound system for his musician son.

Later on, with the encouragement of friend and roommate, Tracy Upchurch, Joe decided to join him in pursuing a law degree.  After graduating from law school, Joe joined a law practice near his hometown of St. Augustine, and subsequently founded his independent elder law practice, Boles Law Firm.

Serving the Community

Motivated to make a greater difference in the local community, in 2004, Joe was elected to the city commission of the City of St. Augustine. From 2006 to 2014, he served as Mayor of the City of St. Augustine, ushering in the celebratory events for the historic 500th Anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine.

Of COA’s expansion over the past 50 years, Joe reflected:

‘We are incredibly fortunate to have a Council on Aging that offers so many services for seniors and caregivers in one agency. It has truly become a model for the rest of the country.”

Joe is committed to being there for our community’s elders, not only as a COA board member, but also as a supporter of Meals on Wheels, a core COA program. 

“At the end of the day, no matter what else I’ve done, I know my support for COA has fed someone,” he shared. “That is a good feeling.”

Reaching Elders on the Airways

Joe and his law partner, William Masson, host the COA Radio Show on WFOY Radio 102.1 FM every Thursday morning at 8 a.m., where they discuss all the latest COA news and events, as well as issues important to seniors and caregivers. 

To learn more about ways to get involved and make a difference with COA, please click here or call (904) 209-3700.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The food items on that table in the picture... enough carbs and sugar to give 50 people dementia.