CHICAGO – This week the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) hosted the 2007 Governor’s Conference on Aging, highlighting cutting edge developments, innovations and best practices in the aging network from novices to experts. The conference, entitled “Redefining Caregiving”, was the Department’s biggest, most comprehensive training event as well as the largest statewide meeting of professionals who work in aging fields. At the conference today, individuals and groups from around the state who have shown continued dedication and compassion for aging issues were recognized and honored during a special luncheon.
“We have made great strides over the past few years in addressing the needs of older adults. But older people continue to face challenges today, and we in the aging profession, need to be sure we are providing the kinds of services that will help people live long, healthy lives,” IDoA Director Charles D. Johnson said. “This conference was a great opportunity for us to come together to discuss how we are making progress, and to brainstorm on how we can anticipate the needs of the aging population.”
This year’s Governor’s Conference on Aging, held December 12 - 14 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, brought together over 600 people from across the state focused on the issues that affect the diverse population of two million older people in the state.
Today at the conference, a number of awards were presented by professional associations to individuals and organizations in the Aging Network whose contributions and accomplishments merit recognition.
AARP presented the Bright Star for Seniors Award to Jane Addams Senior Caucus (Chicago) for their continued dedication to expanding services to older adults. The Caucus worked with AARP to help pass sweeping new laws allowing seniors to remain independent in their own homes with the dignity they deserve. The Jane Adams Senior Caucus is a grassroots organization of Chicago-area older adults organized to build relationships, develop leaders, educate people, and create power necessary for older adults to play a central role in determining their quality of life.
The Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging presented the following awards:
• Sid Granet Aging Network Achievement Award to White Crane Wellness Center (Chicago) for their continued dedication to working with the Area Agency on Aging serving Suburban Cook County on a number of health initiatives. White Crane promotes disease prevention programming for older adults in 130 municipalities in the suburbs of Chicago. White Crane provides a comprehensive, holistic, community-based approach to chronic disease prevention. White Crane also helped implement the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program to empower older adults and give them tools to reduce the negative impact chronic disease has on lives. White Crane Wellness Center has reduced the negative impact of ill health in thousands of people throughout the suburbs of Chicago.
• Sid Granet Aging Network Achievement Award for Individual Excellence to IDoA Director Charles D. Johnson for his undivided leadership and passion for the Aging community.
• Sid Granet Aging Network Community Service Award to Volunteers of Hanover Township Senior Services (Bartlett) for their continued dedication to help seniors maintain an independent lifestyle within the community along with a sense of belonging and joy of living. They give older and active adults an array of opportunities to volunteer. Currently, the township has 230 giving individuals who participate in community projects such as helping prepare tax returns, deliver meals, prescription drug assistance, and the new P.A.L. Program which helps seniors in need of companionship. Many of the senior volunteers also act as teacher aides in elementary school, operate a gift shop in the senior center, work to prevent fraud through the IL Attorney General’s Senior Sleuth Program, and work on projects to benefit hospitals, hospice and other community partners. Last year, the volunteers performed over 17,000 hours dedicated to various projects.
The Coalition of Limited Speaking Elderly (CLESE) presented the Pillar of Service Award to San O of Chicago. O helped to found the South-East Asia center, which serves all ages and residents of the Uptown community with a variety of services, but focuses on helping immigrants and refugees acculturate. She is the Program Director of the Center, which opened an Adult Day Service in 1997. O also serves on the Board of the Chicago Public Library, is a compassionate and passionate leader, and is a true advocate for older adults.
Jen Herrman of Bloomington received the Case Manager of the Year Award from the Illinois Council of Case Coordination Units. Herrman is a Case Manager for the Community Care Systems, Inc. Case Coordination Unit in Bloomington, and has diligently worked with other case managers to develop a system to ensure follow-up and monitoring is being completed. She is the cofounder of the McLean County Senior Service Council and represents CCSI on the Caregiver Advisory Council. Herrman volunteers at many health and resource fair to educate older adults. Herman is a strong advocate for clients and believes they have the right to make their own decisions, even if they are not a popular or “correct”. Her dedication has given her to opportunity to become an able and admired supervisor of the Bloomington office.
The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers presented the CCP Supervisor of the Year Award to the following:
• Mary Dozier from Addus HealthCare in O’Fallon for her advocacy on behalf of the clients. Dozier goes beyond any requirements as a Supervisor to make sure things are good for both the client and aide. She works at matching each client with the right worker based on the client’s needs and the worker’s abilities and attitude. Dozier is courteous, pleasant, and dependable, and motivates aides to strive their best.
• Marcia Chaney for her dedication to the Mason County Health Department in Havana, where she has been working in the Community Care Program for over 20 years. Thanks to the work of Chaney, the Department’s CCP program has blossomed; setting new usage records this year, and the nearly doubling the number of private pay clients in the last two years.
The Illinois Coalition on Aging presented The Phyllis H. Pinkerton Award to Frank Daigh of Springfield for his longtime volunteerism to the elder population. Daigh not only cares for his 89-year-old mother, but he works to improve the quality of life for all older Illinoisans. He serves on the Board of Senior Services for Sangamon County and serves as a member of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Innovation Grants Award Committee, which provides funding for culture-change grants to long term care facilities. Daigh is also an active member of the AARP Illinois volunteer lobby team.
And the Illinois Department on Aging presented the Governor’s Award for Excellence to the following:
• Beth O'Grady for her leadership expanding the diversity of the Aging Network and distinguished service to the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE). O’Grady has been Executive Director at CLESE for 13 years. She also worked at East Central Illinois AAA in 1974 and 75 and at AgeOptions for 10 years on and off. She worked at Terra Nova Films for a year and she spent a year directing the Senior Citizens Office for the city of Blue Island.
• Eric Weakly, Mary Pat Frye, Julie Seline Farmer, Evelyn Nabors Ruth Waeltz, Georgia Vyette, Marsha Nelson, Susan Real, Robin Boling, Mike O'Donnell, Debbie Kuiken, Paul Bennett, Carol Aronson, Becky Pedraza, and Michelle Gentry Wiseman, for their diligent efforts in developing and implementing comprehensive care coordination throughout Illinois. This group of people worked tirelessly to usher in a new way to coordinate case management in the state that the Department could have never implemented without the help of these individuals.