Two years ago, Kris Chana, fresh out of the University of Florida and unhappily trying to sell insurance in Texas, was, in his words, “lost in a big old world.”
In the ensuing time, however, he has moved back to his native Florida, married, bought an assisted living facility in Port Charlotte, established a nonprofit foundation to help disadvantaged kids learn to fly, and is about to embark on an ambitious new business venture serving senior citizens in Charlotte County.
Chana, 24, of Port Charlotte, smiles warily and says, “This is a whole new ball game. I’m growing up fast.”
The new ball game is Charlotte Seniors, a free online resource guide for senior citizens and their families scheduled to be launched in January at CharlotteSeniors.org.
It will provide information on legal, financial, medical, housing and other resources pertaining to seniors “at a central location where people can access information anytime, anywhere and at no cost.”
It will also contain articles written by local professionals on topics like elder law, a calendar of upcoming senior events in Charlotte County, an online caregiver support group similar to Facebook, monthly webinars featuring physicians and experts from industries dealing with seniors, and a classified section containing information on buying, selling and trading used medical equipment.
Founding sponsors, Chana said, are Charlotte State Bank & Trust and Unity Medical, a Port Charlotte home medical equipment company. He’s also recruiting up to 500 business members, with a free one-year membership, to offer products, services or information for seniors on the site.
Chana, a native of Orlando with a degree in business administration and entrepreneurship, bailed out of Texas after a six-month stint (“I just didn’t like selling insurance.”) and headed back to Orlando, where, he said, he became interested in the elder care business through a family friend.
Looking to start his own business at age 23, he found an elder care facility for sale off Harborview Road in Port Charlotte, bought it, renovated and redecorated it, and opened the Key West-themed Chelsea Place Retirement Resort Living, named for his bride, Chelsea, in July 2011.
Interviewing prospective residents, Chana was asked many questions about local medical, financial and legal services for seniors, which, being new to the area, he couldn’t answer. Thus the idea for CharlotteSeniors.org. It simply made sense, he said, to “put all the senior citizen resources in Charlotte County in one place online.”
Chana, an avid pilot for eight years — “I fly whenever and wherever I can” — also has teamed with his wife, a student pilot, to start Dream Wings (www.dreamwings.org), a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to students and young adults pursuing their private pilot license.
But right now, his energy is directed to making sure his own new business venture takes off.
If Charlotte Seniors is successful, he said, there are tentative plans to expand it to cover Lee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties, possibly taking on all of Florida, and eventually, he says wistfully, why not the country as well.