MIAMI (AP) – Donna Durham spent her life in motion. A career truck driver, she found herself craving the open road when she retired, and missed camaraderie with others.
But there’s another reason she became a driver for Uber.
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“I needed the extra income,” said Durham, who is 67. “Trying to live off of Social Security is just not an option. I think that’s probably the problem a lot of seniors have.”
As costs rise, some seniors have turned to gig driver apps like Uber or Lyft to afford life in Tampa Bay.
Florida, home to not one but three Fountains of Youth, has long been a magnet for older adults. Tampa Bay is no exception.
For decades, St. Petersburg was lampooned as “God’s Waiting Room” due to its large retiree population, and Tampa was voted among the top ten “Best Places to Retire in the U.S.” in 2022.
But it’s more expensive than ever to live here in the wake of the pandemic.
“The perception of Florida living and the reality of Florida living are two different ends of the spectrum,” said Yvonne Brockington, 51, a Safety Harbor resident who lost her full-time job in November. “I work so much down here it’s not even funny.”
Brockington now drives 40 hours for Uber on weekends. She has a teenage son, a mortgage, car payments.
“The price of everything is going up,” she said. “All weekend long I’m either driving or sleeping.”
She’ll keep driving for Uber even after she finds full-time employment, she said.
“I need to pay my house off if I’m ever going to retire,” Brockington said. “I don’t have a pension to fall back on. I’m just — I’m screwed. So I need a roof over my head.”
Older adults make up a high share of gig drivers in Tampa Bay.
Twenty-nine percent of Lyft drivers in the area are over the age of 50 — compared to a quarter of Lyft drivers nationally, according to data provided by the company.
Roughly 17 percent of Tampa Bay Uber drivers are 55 or older, said Javier Correoso, an Uber spokesperson, compared to 16 percent across the country. Five percent of those drivers are 65 or older — placing them solidly in retirement age.
Durham collects $718 in Social Security monthly, but it’s not enough to cover all her expenses, she said. Durham owns her mobile home — but not the lot it’s firmly planted on. The rent spiked last year.
“It’s really hard,” said Durham, who drives for both Lyft and Uber. “I’ve got car insurance. I’ve got a car payment. Electric, phones, all this stuff.”
The job itself is getting more expensive. There are costs that come with being a driver — most must purchase rideshare insurance, in addition to regular car insurance, to cover accidents that occur while transporting a passenger.
Gasoline prices remain a constant source of worry for rideshare drivers.
“Gas is killing us,” said Linda Swanson, 61-year-old Uber driver who lives in Pinellas Park. “With the higher inflation is going, tips are dropping too.”
For some older adults, driving for Uber or Lyft holds a different appeal: It’s guaranteed time with others.
“I needed to get out of the house,” said Joseph Size, 80, a Plant City resident who began driving for Uber after his wife died two years ago. “She had a lingering illness, and I was really busy with all of that. There I was at the end of it all, just sitting here, retired and looking for something to do.”
After COVID-19 was first discovered in Florida, other senior gig drivers sought to avoid social interaction.
“I switched from having passengers in the car and went to UberEATS,” said Nevin Overmiller, a 78-year-old Seminole resident. “And that was great, cause people didn’t want to leave their homes.”
Staying safe along the way remains a challenge for many in the pandemic.
On New Year’s Eve, a typically high-profit day for rideshare drivers, Durham was hospitalized for chest pains. The doctors told her she’d tested positive for COVID-19.
“I’m very very careful — I clean up the car, hand them hand wipes,” said Durham, who lives alone and said she doesn’t interact with others outside of work. “But that’s the only thing I could think of — that I got it from a passenger.”
She’ll keep driving after she’s discharged and recovered, she said. She can’t quit.
“You’ve got to protect yourself best you can, that’s all you can do,” Durham said.
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FIU, UM grad students receive scholarships from CREW Miami
CREW Miami (Commercial Real Estate Women Miami) announced the recipients of this year’s Roslyn K. Berrin Scholarship Awards during the group’s final public event of 2021 in December.
In 2019, Roslyn Berrin, founder of Berrin Realty Inc. and the first recipient of CREW Miami’s Lifetime Achievement Award, initiated the CREW Miami Scholarship Fund.
The Roslyn K. Berrin Real Estate Scholarship is available to females enrolled as a junior or senior-level undergraduate or graduate student with a declared major in a real estate-related discipline, at a university or college located in Miami-Dade County and maintain a cumulative GPA of no less than 3.0. The awards also include complimentary CREW Miami student membership and mentor opportunities.
“I am honored to be selected as the recipient of the Roslyn K. Berrin Scholarship,” said Kaitlyn Vogel, one of the recipients. “This award means a lot to me. I am both grateful and excited to join and interact with an organization that truly understands the importance of being surrounded by powerful and successful women.”
Vogel will graduate in December 2022 with a Master of Business Administration in Real Estate from the University of Miami.
“I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the Roslyn K. Berrin Real Estate Scholarship and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to become a member of CREW Miami Chapter,” said Ximena Lamadrid Fischer, another recipient. “CREW Miami has been a pioneer in driving gender parity issues in commercial real estate by bringing together senior female leadership from all fields of commercial real estate. I believe the opportunity to access CREW Miami’s diverse network and the ability to give me access to mentorship opportunities will be invaluable to furthering my career in the commercial real estate industry.”
Lamadrid Fischer will graduate in May 2022 with a Master of Science in International Real Estate from Florida International University.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, entrepreneur, author and co-founder/managing partner of Clerisy, was the keynote speaker.
The 2021 CREW Miami awards also were announced:
CREW Miami Mover and Shaker of the Year, Heidi Roberts, Territory Manager A&D at Global Furniture Group;
CREW Miami Unsung Hero: Jennifer Saul, Business Development & Client Liaison at Leslie Saul & Associates Inc., and
CREW Miami Outstanding Leadership: Josie Correa, director of Business Development at JWR Construction Services.
For more information, visit www.crewmiami.org/events.
Carmen Rodriguez honored as AKAM’s 2021 Florida Executive of the Year
AKAM, a leading residential property management company serving New York, Connecticut and Florida for nearly four decades, recently announced that recruitment executive Carmen Rodriguez has been named vice president of Talent Acquisition.
At a company celebration in December 2021, Rodriguez also was honored as AKAM’s 2021 Florida Executive of the Year in recognition of her achievements during the past 12 months.
“Since Carmen Rodriguez joined the AKAM team three years ago, she has exceeded expectations and contributed to the advancement of all of our residential properties and to the company’s overall success in Florida,” said David Cohen, executive vice president of AKAM. “She has earned the respect of colleagues, has tremendous expertise in national and global recruitment staffing and is highly regarded in residential property management in South Florida.”
Rodriguez was selected among dozens of AKAM company executives to receive the Florida Executive of the Year recognition. She was specifically credited with successfully overseeing a team of recruiters, even with the challenges brought on with the Covid-19 pandemic and the shortage of labor in the marketplace, developing innovative recruitment strategies and being a team player.
Rodriguez joined AKAM in January 2019 as director of recruitment. She calls South Florida home with her husband and three daughters.
Rodriguez has over 28 years of experience managing all phases of the recruitment process with specific expertise in residential property management. Her expertise includes devising effective recruiting strategies, hiring and supporting managers, managing and developing college recruitment programs and internships, preparing recruiting reports and other human resources record keeping.
She is a Florida Licensed Realtor and holds certifications in various subjects including Career Service Training and Leadership Training.
Established in 1983 on the premise of shifting the mindset within the industry, AKAM, a leading property management firms serving New York, Connecticut and Florida, is recognized for its highly personalized, attentive, hospitality-led service designed for an enriched residential experience. AKAM’s work is supported by deep knowledge and expertise in the field, and best-in-class talent in hospitality, management, finance and planning, architecture, and related disciplines.
For more information, visit www.akam.com/.
Pinecrest resident Jennifer Warren Medwin has a new book
Jennifer Warren Medwin, a Pinecrest resident and a Certified Divorce Coach, has a new book out and the timing seems perfect, since the highest rates of divorce take place during the months of January and April.
Titled Strategies and Tips from a Divorce Coach: A Roadmap to Move Forward, the book is described as a comprehensive resource for one of life’s most difficult periods. Whether you’re considering divorce, ready to start the process, or simply do not know where else to turn, Strategies and Tips from a Divorce Coach: A Roadmap to Move Forward is intended to help you take back your power and move forward confidently while saving time, money, and emotional fatigue.
With years of experience as a Certified Divorce Coach and her own firsthand experience going through a divorce, Medwin channels all her insight, empathy, and education into a comprehensive guide that is simultaneously comforting, illuminating and empowering. Her book puts the tools you need right into your hands: informative checklists, practical tips and strategies, clear and direct steps for moving forward, solution-based plans of action, and more. At the same time, the book provides chapters of self-help advice to support and acknowledge the mental and emotional difficulties people experience before, during or after the dissolution of marriage. Whatever your next step forward is in the divorce process, this book will help you make educated and practical choices.
“As a Certified Divorce Coach and someone who has personally gone through a divorce, I understand how challenging it can be to advocate for yourself while experiencing the mental and emotional toll of a separation,” Medwin said. “I wrote this book to take the guesswork out of this difficult time and to help individuals make clear, well-informed decisions while also saving time and money.”
Strategies and Tips from a Divorce Coach: A Roadmap to Move Forward comes highly lauded by divorce professionals and satisfied clients alike. Medwin’s book is exactly the type of resource that you need once you start thinking about ending your marriage.
Sonia Queralt, Esq., Co-Founder of Divorceify, praises the book.
“The advice and tips she offers her readers are practical and truly help them move through the process in a more constructive and healthy way,” says Queralt. “I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are starting the divorce process, this book will help you every step of the way.”
Strategies and Tips from a Divorce Coach: A Roadmap to Move Forward is available for purchase on amazon.com and soon to be available on barnesandnoble.com.
For information contact Jennifer Warren Medwin, MS, CDC at email@example.com or contact the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.seekingempowerment.com. Follow on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn: @jenseekingempowerment.
About the Author:
Jennifer Warren Medwin, MS is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach, Supreme Court of Florida Family Mediator, and a Certified Marital Mediator. Her private practice in Pinecrest is called Seeking Empowerment: Clarity through Partnership. Jennifer specializes in working alongside individuals and couples who are contemplating divorce and are fearful of high conflict and with those who hope to save their marriages. She partners with clients to develop the clarity, confidence, courage, conflict management strategies, and communication skills they need to move through the process. Medwin is a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP), a member of the SupportPay Advisory Council, and a contributing writer for Your Tango, Thrive Global, and OurFamilyWizard.
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