MILTON — The first step in Milton city council’s plans to improve the lives of area senior citizens begins today and continues Thursday with a survey for seniors at the Guy Thompson Community Center in Milton.

The city tasked the United Way of Santa Rosa County with creating a Community Lifecycle Plan to discover and address seniors’ needs through the survey, a comprehensive directory of services for seniors, and an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats also called a SWOT analysis. Finally, UWSRC will present the city its complete overall Community Lifecycle Plan, according to UWSRC Major Gifts Manager Kyle Holley.

The city wants more seniors participating in its seniors' programs, according to Milton Public Information Officer Pamela Holt.

“We have classes, lunch-and-learns, dances. We have all these things for seniors to participate in. The city is trying to grow their senior program,” Holt said.

“We have a really growing (elderly) population. We want to let them know, too, the city is interested in them. We want to reach out to them in every aspect we can, particularly in housing and transportation. With the survey, we can determine some of the needs or shortcomings or what’s not there that we should develop to help our senior citizens,” Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson said.

The cost for UWSRC’s work is $25,000 but comes from the state of Florida.

“It’s an example of the city taking advantage of state resources to do local work,” Holley said. “Florida always has been a great place for seniors to retire and continues to want to attract them and take care of the seniors already here. In part, that is why the state of Florida’s economic office created this fund to encourage cities in Florida to find out what their seniors need and want and also to gauge how well a city is doing currently at meeting those needs,” he said.

The survey takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Guy Thompson Community Center. For those who can’t participate, there will be another opportunity during the Senior Expo and Health Fair from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday also at the Guy Thompson Community Center according to Holley.

Johnson offered to find a ride for seniors who don’t have transportation. Call her at 225-1725 or city hall at 983-5400.