El Dorado County has now, officially, recognized May 2013 as Older Americans Month. Issuing a formal proclamation to that effect, on May 21 at the Board of Supervisors also hosted the county’s annual Senior of the Year award ceremony. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Unleash the Power of Age.”
On behalf of El Dorado County’s Commission on Aging, Health and Human Services Agency’s Assistant Director Mark Contois introduced a “baker’s dozen” active, vital, dedicated individuals who represent the best in community volunteerism.
Devoting thousands of hours to their neighbors every year, these volunteers deliver meals to shut-ins, organize games at Senior Day Care, bake cookies for the County’s Nutrition Centers, make and donate custom walking sticks, give free music lessons, set up a Senior Peer Counseling Program and perform a host of other good works.
Contois added a short biography as he announced the names of the candidates, any and all of whom could rightfully be called a Senior of the Year.
Harry Harper donates his time to the Shingle Springs Fire Department, Red Cross and Blood source and “is known to tell a good joke,” Contois noted. Ruth Ann Morris gives over 25 hours a week to the Senior Center, Mother Lode Lions and folks in the community who have mobility issues.
Pollock Pines was well represented by Tom Schulz and Ken Harper. Schulz works with Sons in Retirement, Dogwood Garden Club and a Parkinson’s Support Group. He also makes “Whimsystiks” and gives the proceeds back to the community. Harper is deeply involved with the Economic Development Association in Pollock Pines, the school district and Rotary Club. Contois related that Ken Harper is the “Chief Go-Fer” for the community.
Joel Willis organized and directs the Pioneer Park Exercise Group providing health information and volunteers in the park’s Community Center. A driving force in the Meals on Wheels program, Eldon Bogh has volunteered for more than 30 years delivering food to county residents five days a week.
Ride and Shine, Foothills United Methodist Church and the Fountain Tallman Museum are just some of the recipients of Edward Kaufmann’s volunteer efforts. Kaufmann is a “valuable asset to the community with a wealth of knowledge and dedication to services for all ages,” Contois said. South Lake Tahoe’s Ken Sands spends a lot of time at the local Senior Center and the Sierra Community Church. He’s a primary participant in fundraisers for senior programs and in “keeping the older adults in the community happy.”
Another Tahoe area candidate was Roger Barragan. Contois said the 20-year resident is an active volunteer with the South Lake Tahoe Cancer League, several fraternal organizations and numerous programs that serve his community. Placerville and the the west slope have benefited for more than 30 years from Luana Zylla’s work with the homeless and low-income residents. She volunteers at the Upper Room Dining Hall, the Senior Nutrition Program and at her church.
“World traveler, kayaker and a yoga enthusiast,” is how Contois described the other persona of Georgetown’s Gail McGonigle. The volunteer persona is active with the HartSong Ranch, Greenwood Civic Organization and local senior programs. McGonigle is also the author of “Dad’s Home Alone,” a book on caring for an elderly parent, and she is a lecturer on Women’s Health issues.
Art Molho retired from his job as a psychologist with the county’s mental health department 10 years ago. Since then, he has been the “driving force” and strong supporter of the El Dorado County Senior Peer Counseling Program. He trains the volunteer counselors, finds grant funding for special projects and “supports volunteers and seniors through very difficult times.”
Joe Wilson, the “Angel of Music” at the El Dorado Hills Senior Center, was “an extraordinary man with remarkable talents.” He gave countless hours to local senior services and free guitar lessons to all aspiring musicians. Joe Wilson passed away peacefully on Easter Sunday, and Contois read, “Our final nominee will forever hold a special place in the hearts of many in our community.”
Board chairman Ron Briggs handled the awarding of the special bronze sculpture that will spend the next year with Senior of the Year, Ruth Ann Morris.
“These individuals were nominated for their exemplary work in El Dorado County as volunteers. Their dedication to their community and volunteerism has proven to be selfless and an inspiration to others. Thus, Unleashing the Power of Age in El Dorado County!” Contois exclaimed.
Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.