Older Volunteers Honored by the State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) celebrates Senior Citizens’ Day each year during May, recognized nationally as Senior Citizens Month. The event is sponsored by the New York State Office for the Aging, its Advisory Committees and Legislative partners to acknowledge the significant contributions made by older New Yorkers to their communities across the State. This year’s event takes place on May 8, with the theme “Honoring Those Who Help Others and Empower Their Communities.”
Each year, a group of older New Yorkers are nominated by the offices for aging in each county and invited to Albany to be recognized for their contributions and take part in the Senior Citizens’ Day celebrations. As in the past, this year’s nominees are an exceptional group of older volunteers whose significant contributions have impacted the lives of many people, young and old.
The honorees and their families attended a recognition ceremony at the State Capitol, where they were greeted by Greg Olsen, NYSOFA Acting Director, Senator David Valesky, Chair of the Senate Aging Committee and Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Chairs of the Assembly Aging Committee.
Local volunteers honored were:
- Mary Beechey
Mary joined RSVP of Chemung County in 2001. She has donated 3,863 hours of her time to serving others. Years ago, she took a class in Braille and now transcribes books for the blind. In her spare time, Mary is active with the Over-the-Counter Players performing skits at local senior homes and clubs to promote safe driving, scam alerts and health issues for our older population. She teaches children about the dangers of smoking and is also a clown in many local parades. Mary also volunteers at the Free Community Kitchen; Near Westside Neighborhood; Steel Memorial Library; and, knits hats and mittens for school children.
- Connie Bergh
Connie has been a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program for 16 ½ years, giving a total of 6,179 hours to helping others. For 28 years she has volunteered at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She visits patients and is the facilitator of the Widow/Widowers Support Group. In 2002, Connie was awarded the Spirit Award from St. Joseph’s Hospital. The Spirit Award is given to volunteers, health professionals and support staff that has made a difference in the quality of patient care at St. Joseph’s and in the community. She also likes to volunteer at the Samaritan Center as an interviewer. Since 1994, Connie has been a member of the Senior Notebook Team, where she currently holds the office of Secretary. As a member of the Senior Notebook TV Program, she co-hosts a segment called “Wit & Wisdom.” For over 30 years she has been a member of St. Mary’s Church as well as a member of the church choir.
- Barbara Berghoff
Since joining RSVP in mid-May, 2005, Barbara has volunteered more than 4,160 hours at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, the Schuyler County Office for the Aging, the Schuyler County Historical Society and the Montour Falls Memorial Library. She has served, or currently serves, on the OFA Advisory Committee, the Schuyler-Yates RSVP Program Advisory Committee and the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council. She also volunteers at one of the OFA congregate meal sites. Barbara is a strong advocate on senior issues as well as cheerleader for other seniors promoting their involvement.
- Beaver Dams United Methodist Church
The Beaver Dams United Methodist Church (BDUMC) recently responded to a significant need in Schuyler County by starting a Medical Equipment Loan Program. This is free and open to the public. Members of the congregation worked to clean-up, secure and prepare space within the church basement for donations
which they began accepting in December 2011. Thanks to a sizable donation from a local pharmacy, the Church has a stock of wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. Two seniors within the congregation have volunteered their time to facilitate this loan program including the creation of an excel spreadsheet to list and track loan
equipment. The BDUMC has served their community in other ways including hosting a Thursday morning community coffee hour that promotes fellowship for all residents as well as a Vacation Bible school each summer. In addition, they have graciously allowed office for the aging to host educational presentations and
recreational events in their fellowship hall.
- Lyn Chadwick
Lyn is a retired military RN who is active in Red Cross Blood drives, the Board of the Fred and Harriet Taylor Memorial Library and local politics. She is a Bone Builders leader and is very active in church work. Lyn is also a volunteer for Project Care, a volunteer program that assists frail seniors to remain in their homes. In 2011, Lyn‘s quick intervention for a recipient who had been scammed out of about $12,000 resulted in $9,000 being returned.
- Raymond F. Cotter
Raymond has made himself available to the Steuben County Office for the Aging for many years. Former Director Linda Tetor had often called upon Ray to do start-up work, or fix some program in disarray and even refine computer information. His latest volunteer assignment is to assist the Corning office with insurance advisements.