Five Volunteers Named Gold Honorees of the Decade

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On April 20, 2012, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and MetLife Foundation celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Older Volunteers Enrich America Awards by honoring the top volunteers from the last decade.

Award winners traveled to Washington, DC, for a ceremony in their honor. There, they were addressed by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations, U.S. Administration on Aging, Edwin Walker; Director of Senior Corps, Dr. Erwin Tan; and Senator Harris Wofford.

Over the last nine years, 1,000 extraordinary older volunteers aged 54 to 92 years have been nominated and 27 honored with awards for outstanding contributions to their local communities. This year, 10 previous award recipients received awards in one of three categories.

These volunteers were named Gold Honorees of the Decade:

  • Community Champion Category: Barbara and Ira Smith, Acton, Massachusetts, Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts
  • Mentor Category: Edward Jagen, Beltsville, Maryland, Good Knight Child Empowerment Network; and Charles Fernandez, Plover, Wisconsin, Portage County RSVP
  • Team Spirit Category: Lillian Embick, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Audiences Unlimited

These volunteers received the Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • Community Champions: Pendleton Woods, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Epilepsy Association of Oklahoma; Fran Heitzman, Bloomington, Minnesota, Bridging
  • Mentoring Awards: Ora Rakestraw, Sacramento, California, Sacramento Foster Grandparent Program
  • Team Spirit Awards: LaVerne Gordon, Contra Costa, California, Contra Costa County Area Agency on Aging; Sol Goldstein, Long Island, New York, Rebuilding Together

The Community Champion category honors those who use their time and talent to make their community a better place to live. The Mentor category recognizes older volunteers who are devoted to working with young people and their families, and the Team Spirit category pays tribute to older volunteers who assist other older adults.

The top winner in each category was selected through an online voting process and designated a Gold Honoree of the Decade. Honorees received engraved gifts and their volunteer organizations received monetary awards.

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