AgeOptions honors volunteers for their service
Volunteer Tracy Irwin and Jonathan Lavin, AgeOptions president and CEO.
AgeOptions honored 43 volunteers from throughout the Chicago area for their service and dedication to older adults in their communities at the 37th annual Volunteer Recognition on June 14. The event was sponsored by HealthSpring, which provides Medicare Advantage services and Medicare prescription plans to Illinois seniors from offices in Rosemont.
Volunteers were nominated by organizations in their communities, where they provide a variety of services for older adults. AgeOptions also recognized volunteers who work in three of the agency’s programs: Senior Medicare Patrol, Economic Security Initiative and Take Charge of Your Health.
“AgeOptions and our partner agencies in communities throughout suburban Cook County appreciate the dedicated volunteers whose time and talents contribute so much to improving the quality of life for older adults,” said Jonathan Lavin, president and CEO of AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of suburban Cook County.
The following volunteers live and/or volunteer in the westem suburbs:
Richard Alton, Oak Park, — Take Charge of Your Health. An advocate of the Stanford University chronic disease self-management evidence-based programs such as Take Charge, Alton travels annually to Africa to lead Stanford’s Positive Self-Management for HIV. He is a CDSMP master trainer and frequent co-leader for Take Charge of Your Health programs in Oak Park and Forest Park.
Ellie Babka, Riverside, — Nominated by Riverside Township. A volunteer for 20 years, Babka provides scripts and directs a theater group that presents live recreations of old-time radio shows for monthly township programs. She also teaches light calisthenics to older adults. A three-time survivor of cancer, Babka raised two daughters with her husband of 56 years and was active in PTA.
Yolanda Berndt, Forest Park, — Take Charge of Your Health. Since being trained in 2010, Berndt has facilitated six Spanish-language Tomando Control de Su Salud workshops in Melrose Park. She is also a gifted cake designer.
Denise Boyle, Oak Park — Economic Security Initiative. After a long career as a principal in Cicero, Denise is giving back to her community by
Lowell Eckberg, Oak Park — Nominated by the Senior Citizens Center of Oak Park River Forest. A volunteer for approximately 18 years, Eckberg is in charge of housewares at the Economy Shop resale shop. He does weaving and helps beginning weavers at the Senior Citizens Center, and helps with anything that needs to be done. A retired Methodist minister, he also volunteers at the Oak Park Information Center and is a docent for the Hemingway Foundation. He and his wife, Judith, have been married for 38 years.
Tracy Erwin, Hinsdale — Nominated by Aging Care Connections. Erwin is on the Aging Care Connections Gala Planning Committee, is a physical therapy volunteer at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and volunteers at schools. An eager, enthusiastic volunteer, she also takes on tasks such as data entry, canvassing the neighborhood for auction and selling raffle tickets.
Kate Porter, Oak Park — Economic Security Initiative. The first ESI volunteer, she brings creativity and dedication to the program and is always ready for a new challenge or project.
Magnolia Rabelo, Chicago — Take Charge of Your Health. Rabelo became a Tomando Control de Su Salud class leader for the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition in 2011. Her skills and outreach efforts have made it possible to bring the program to residents of Melrose Park, Maywood and Bellwood.
Adriana Tafolla, Melrose Park – Take Charge of Your Health. Tafolla became a Tomando Control de Su Salud class leader in 2010. A member of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, her leadership skills have made it possible to bring the program to her community and surrounding suburbs. She also leads a book club for older adults in the Melrose Park area.
Senior Medicare Patrol — AgeOptions coordinates the statewide Illinois SMP, which empowers consumers to prevent, detect and report health care fraud. SMP volunteers play an important role in the program by sharing the SMP message in their communities. Illinois SMP is supported by grants from the U.S. Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services.
Economic Security Initiative — Consequences of the economic downturn can be devastating for some older adults. Those who have medical issues may be unable to afford to see their doctor or buy necessary prescriptions. Older workers who have lost their jobs are likely to find it difficult to find new opportunities, and loss of income may put their homes in jeopardy. Increasing rents and transportation costs force many to put essentials, such as food and medicine, on their credit cards, running up bills they have no way to pay.
The Economic Security Planning program provides options that have assisted 500 clients since its inception two years ago. Since many low-income older adults face multiple challenges, this program provides a holistic approach to solving problems of economic security through financial counseling, education and benefits coordination.
Take Charge of Your Health — AgeOptions offers four Take Charge programs: Take Charge of Your Health, Tomando Control de Su Salud, Take Charge of Your Diabetes and Tomando Control de Su Diabetes. Participants in the evidence-based programs learn how to thrive with a chronic health condition and not simply survive. AgeOptions partners with community and faith-based organizations to reach older adults throughout suburban Cook County. Trained volunteer workshop facilitators who reflect their communities have been key to the success of Take Charge of Your Health programs.
AgeOptions and its network of community agencies are the principal source of information regarding senior services in suburban Cook County. A nonprofit organization located in Oak Park, AgeOptions has served the older adults of suburban Cook County and their caregivers as an Area Agency on Aging since 1974. For more information, visit the Agency website at www.ageoptions.org.
AgeOptions connects adults age 60 and older with resources and service options so they can live their lives to the fullest and remain in their homes as long as possible. In 2011 it met the needs of more than 200,000 individuals in 130 communities within 30 townships that have a diverse population of more than 480,000 older adults. AgeOptions advocates, plans, develops and funds programs and coordinates a network of community-based senior service agencies to ensure an effective and efficient system of service delivery. Support is provided through the Older Americans Act, Illinois General Revenue Funds, local funds and individual contributions.