It’s a constant struggle for Daineli Cardona Perez. She is trying to support her Hoppers Fun House in the Silvermill Shopping Plaza, channel the funds into building a assisted-living community, and trying to do both on a bare-bones budget that leaves her drained at the end of the day.
Perez, a former nurse who also works in construction, started the fun house in Town ‘N Country several years ago to entertain youngsters, some of whom are dealing with challenges such as autism. She uses her funhouse as a babysitting center at only a small fee, if any.
“I’m a terrible business person,” Perez said. “We give more than we get back, but somehow God always supports us and the money comes in, but just barely.”
Hoppers Fun House has a Christian theme. Perez, who attends Grace Family Church in Lutz, said she has always wanted to give back to the community and this is her way of doing it. By entertaining children, she is able to put together the funding for the assisted-living center.
The bounce house itself is more than any kid could ask for. There is an area for toddlers, a larger area for the older children, and also food and beverages. It’s perfect for parties, plus jas free Wi-Fi for adults who just want to watch.
There are seven employees who work for free. Everything goes to the assisted-living center, which is why Perez has to work part-time on the side to make ends meet.
“I think I was meant to work in the community,” Perez said. “I love to work with people and this is my way of helping. We need to make some money and sometimes we run out, but it is what I am supposed to do. I never get any sleep, but we need to do more for the elderly.”
Perez’s grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease and Perez was convinced it was up to her to make sure people like her grandmother had care. She’s passionate about her goal, even if it means sacrificing her time and energy.
She is even trying to expand her fun center, despite the lack of money, by adding an indoor café where people can have more room to relax. Hoppers also has hosted independent church services on Friday nights.
Perez looked out at a room full of kids celebrating a birthday and said that seeing the kids smile made the struggles worthwhile.
“I just want to make people happy,” Perez said. “I don’t mind the money, but it would be helpful. I have a lot of things to get done and we’ll get it done.”