SHARE
Author - RAJESHWAR PRASAD

ShantiNiketan (SN), a retirement com-munity based in Tavares, Florida, about an hour Northwest drive from Orlando. This is an age-restricted community where at least one of the residents should be above 55 years of age. Guest of any age can visit and stay with the residents. Children below the age of 18 can stay only for a maximum of 30 days in a year. Phases one and two of SN are operational with 174 condos – 54 in phase one and 120 in phase 2. The two phases are within a mile on the same boulevard. The gated complex with full security was initiated around 2011 though the concept of develop-ing such a community was floated by Iggy Ig-natius, Founder & Chairman, ShantiNiketan Retirement Communities, in 2004. The com-plexes are closer to shopping area, hospital, YMCA, and about an hour drive to Disney World, and it is about 45 miles from the Or-lando International airport.

This is the first retirement com- munity where Indian Americans can spend their golden years  among the peers; get rid of loneli- ness; have clear conscience not to burden their children; and live free of daily chores around the house and if desired to avoid cooking and maintaining kitchen décor.

It does not mean that you have no role in SN! Besides the full-time staff, such as cook, landscaper, manager etc. the SN depends heavily on volunteers to keep the residents involved. In short, Condominium Owners Association runs the project through a duly elected Board of Directors under a non-prof-it entity. The Board is also responsible for the upkeep of the complex and to undertake number of religious, cultural and social ac-tivities throughout the year. Celebration of festivals, national days such as Independence Day and Republic Day of India and USA; special presentations on matters of interest such as wills; Durable Power of Attorney etc., presentations by special guests on diversified subjects covering management of assets, pharmaceutical services, transportation ser-vices, rehabilitation services etc. are routine-ly arranged. SN also carries many indoor ac-tivities for residents to take advantage of and keep them occupied: these include pool ta-ble, table tennis, playing cards, carom, chess, yoga, daily exercise on treadmill, meditation and prayer in the prayer room and discussion groups on pertinent subjects such as Home Health Care. There is also an informal ar-rangement in case bereavement services are needed and residents in such situations, in particular, consider SN as a large family.

Moving forward, the future plans include development of five more Shan-tiNiketans. The land has been purchased, and work on phase three has already com-menced. So far about half of the condos have been sold in phase 3 & 4.

This complex of five SNs will be called ShantiNiketan Village with all amenities on an100 (one hundred) acre area. There will be one SN with single bedroom with no ga-rage where frail elderly people can stay; and in most of the cases free of any charge with their Supplemental Security Income paying for expenses.

It will be called ShantiNiketan and will be developed under Tax-exempt Cor-poration. It will provide seniors a dignified, peaceful and happy environment where they can spend their golden years. The Ashram will help seniors who are unable to support themselves financially, in part or full, and will seek donations from philanthropists and in addition seek financial support from resi-dents if they get Supplemental Social Securi-ty (SSI) and Medicaid.