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YOUNG AT HEART: Social senior turns age 103

October 10, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Beach resident Vinnie Mulinaro has been a Bay Oaks Social Senior for almost a decade now.

His social calendar with good, caring friendships is what keeps him ticking way beyond the age most people could dream of.

Mulinaro turned 103 years old on Monday (Oct. 7), but you couldn't tell. He doesn't have any dietary restrictions. He still eats his favorite food of fried chicken. He takes his own medications. And, his handshake is still firm.

Article Photos

Vinnie Mulinaro, a Bay Oaks Social Senior, celebrated his birthday with friends and a birthday cake after lunch at Sunflower Cafe on Monday. Seniors Helping Seniors' Nancy Kedzior assists Vinnie in cutting the cake.

On Monday, he celebrated with other B.O.S.S. Members, family friends and Seniors Helping Seniors employees at Sunflower Cafe in Summerlin Square. Of course, the Bayside Estates resident was the life of the party.

"I'm feeling really good," said Mulinaro.,"and I'm still looking for a dance partner."

Wearing his signature Fedora hat, Vinnie may not be the dancer he used to be, but he still can cut a rug. His favorite dances are polka, cha-cha, rhumba, the twist and square dancing to name a few.

Two years ago, at his 101st birthday party, Mulinaro stated the secret of his longevity was philosophies. That and finding a dance partner and kissing girls.

"I'm looking for a dance partner. I'll even buy her ticket," he said then.

The Carbondale, Penn., native has lived in the Beach area for 40 years now. He was married to his beloved Antoinette for 73 years (she has since passed) and comes from a family of 13 children (he is the eldest of four remaining siblings). At age 62, he retired from his own garment pressing business in Carlstadt, N.J. (he could see the Empire State building from his office). He has two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Longtime family friend and financial advisor Diane Bartell probably knows Vinnie best. She calls him a ladies' man who loves to sing Sinatra songs, play bocce and tell jokes.

"He's not a man of one joke, but probably 101 jokes," she said. "He has a good heart and is a caring guy."

Mulinaro has been known for performing good deeds all his life. He is still trying to do a good deed everyday.

"If you see a person without a smile, give him one of yours," he has said in the past.

Caregivers from Senior's Helping Seniors, an organization that provides Mulinaro's in-home service, have been taking care of Vinnie since June 2011. They drop by his home everyday of the week from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

"These caregivers are the best, and I am really, really thankful," said Bartell.

Nancy Zelden of Senior Helping Seniors laughed when asked if Mulinaro had dietary restrictions.

"No," she quipped. "He still likes his fried chicken, but he's branched out. He now likes pasta, mango and salad."

Being over age 100 hasn't slowed the Italian's diet down too much, but you are never too old to learn.

As far as health problems, Mulinaro is in good condition. He has macular degeneration and his hearing is poor, but he'll still tell jokes and loves to listen to stories.

"He's sharp as a tack," said Zeldan. "He loves the ladies and loves to go dancing. He's great with conversation, too. And, he's a story teller."

Two years ago, at a potluck luncheon, Mulinaro told a story about being a Marine who "fought bandits in Central America."

As a B.O.S.S. member, he has enjoyed playing bocce, playing cards (he won at speed rummy the day before his 101st birthday bash), taking lunch trips, playing dominoes and the Mexican Train card game and other activities. He also loves to sing and hear stories about the past as well.

"It's all about life with him," said Zeldan. "He's not a TV watcher because he doesn't see well. He's about people. He likes to listen. And, that's a great attribute."

Seniors Helping Seniors

Seniors Helping Seniors in-home services matches seniors who want to provide help with seniors who are looking for help. The organization began in 1998 with a simple concept that seniors can help each other age better and that those who give and those who receive benefit equally.

As an innovative, intra-generational companion service that functions exclusively with and for seniors, Seniors Helping Seniors provides:

- An experienced and credible resource for older adults who want to stay in their own homes;

- Full-range of home care, companion and home maintenance support services from seniors who enjoy helping;

- and Reasonable hourly rates for seniors who want services and reasonable hourly wages to seniors who provide them.

The local Southwest Florida center received its license for homemaker/companion services in January of 2011 and established a nurse registry in May 2012.

"That allows us to be full service," said Zeldan. "We can do anything from homemaker to being a companion to skilled nursing."



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