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  2002 Press Releases  

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CONTACT: Jan Costello
Phone: 217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

April 29, 2002

Unique Achievement Awards
to be Presented

Awards Help Celebrate Nutrition Programs for Seniors

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber today announced this yearís winners of the Governorís Awards for Unique Achievement. In celebration of Older Americans Month (May), the winners will be honored at a ceremony May 1, 2002, at the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

"This spring we are celebrating 30 years of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program," Schreiber said. "The Unique Achievement Awards this year all focus on individuals and programs which provide healthy meals to their older neighbors. Providing meals at a group site like a senior center or bringing meals to the door allows seniors to remain in their own homes. The program also offers older adults socialization, which is just as important."

Honorees were selected by leaders of the Area Agencies on Aging, who chose a person who best exemplifies a "unique achiever" in their area. They are listed alphabetically by hometown:

  • Chicago – Open Kitchens was nominated by the Chicago Department on Aging. The vendor has delivered nutritious meals to homebound seniors since the mid-1980s. It currently serves two meals daily to more than 5,000 seniors in Chicago each weekday, totaling nearly three million meals per year. Chicago Department on Aging Commissioner Anna Willis noted that Open Kitchens staff often go beyond the call of duty to ensure that seniors are cared for. They are often the only contact the senior has on a daily basis, and staff have provided, on occasion, life-saving assistance. And, in weather-related emergencies when roads are impassable, workers get out of their trucks and walk to the seniorís residence. Open Kitchens has also responded to many emergencies such as evacuations from senior buildings by providing hundreds of seniors with meals.

  • Crawford County – Frances Cummins was nominated by Southeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Cummins has volunteered for area senior nutrition programs for over 20 years. When the Director of Crawford County Senior Citizens, Betty Kelly, died in 1995, Cummins was instrumental in keeping the Nutrition Center going and worked there daily. Her nomination states, "Through her endless support and dedication, she helps in every aspect of the Nutrition Program. She travels 20 miles a day to greet seniors in the new Crawford Heritage Center in Oblong. She helps in the kitchen, packages home–delivered meals and announces the numbers for congregate meals." She also completes paperwork and helps with fundraising. She recently won the AARP Citizenship Award.

  • Decatur – Louise Gee was nominated by East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Gee has been a volunteer with Meals–on–Wheels since 1967 when the program first started under the auspices of the Visiting Nurse Association of Macon County. She has continued to deliver meals on a weekly basis for the past 35 years. Along with Meals–on–Wheels, she has been an active volunteer with the Red Cross, Lincoln State School, and St. Paulís United Methodist Church.

  • Dix – Leo Pijut was nominated by Midland Area Agency on Aging. After retiring from McDonnell Douglas, Pijut became active with many community organizations. He is a member of the Epworth United Methodist Church where he has volunteered one day each week for the past ten years to help with home–delivered meals. He has also been a regular volunteer for the Sunshine Center congregate meals for the past nine years. Pijut also counsels seniors on tax and insurance problems.

  • Freeport – NICAA Senior Citizensí Services and Director Rose Taylor were nominated by Northwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Taylor has been with the nutrition program for 28 years. She began her service as an outreach worker and initiated the nutrition program. She recently started a "breakfast" home–delivered meal option for area seniors needing this additional support. Taylor has also been creative in developing funding resources for the program.

  • Henry – The Rev. Walter Breuning was nominated by Central Illinois Agency on Aging. Father Breuning has been dedicated to the Henry Senior Citizens Nutrition Site Program since it started in 1974. He continues to prepare meals, serve meals and plan menus. He donates his time and energy to the people who attend the site and those who receive home–delivered meals. Father Breuning also organizes and prepares holiday dinners, donating his time and money for these events. He always greets the seniors, and seniors look forward to seeing him each day.

  • Herrick – Jessie Landers, 95, was nominated by East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Landers calls the Peace Meal Senior Nutrition Program her "second family" and has participated in the group nutrition program for 28 years. She says, "Iím a widow and live alone, so if I didnít go to Peace Meal, I might not see anybody all day. Thatís when you get stale. People say they go for the food, but I think a lot of them go for the fellowship and the bingo." Her nomination states, "We are thrilled to have such a wonderful woman to honor as one of the longest participants in the Peace Meal Nutrition Program."

  • Kane, Kendall and McHenry Counties – The Salvation Army Golden Diners Nutrition Program was nominated by Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging. The program began in 1974 and currently has 21 sites throughout Kane, Kendall and McHenry Counties. The Golden Diners provide more than 1,100 meals each weekday, with 60 percent being home delivered meals. The programís purpose is to prevent malnutrition and hunger and promote socialization. In 1996, Golden Diners developed a program utilizing a special senior menu at restaurants used as senior dining sites. Billís Restaurant in Montgomery and Family Restaurant in Marengo now average close to serving 100 senior diners each day. In 2000, the program opened "Deli Dining" in the new Kendall County Senior Center in Yorkville. This offers seniors a place where they can stop in for lunch with no reservation. The four "Sís" are emphasized for this program – soup, salad, sandwich and sweet. Golden Diners holds fundraising events to help serve more seniors and continually work to increase public awareness, even getting schools involved to perform for seniors and make placemats for the meal sites.

  • Kewanee – Virginia Nelson was nominated by Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging. She has been with the Henry County Senior Citizens Center for 28 years, and she is now Director. The center has grown over the years to serve the entire county. Nelson says the most exciting part of her job is watching seniorsí overall health improve as they take part in the programs offered by the senior center. She notes that staff at the center likely maintain contact with a senior for the remainder of their life. Nelson is an active volunteer and fundraiser and is also an athlete, biking 25 miles and paddling a canoe down the Hennepin Canal, to name a few accomplishments. She is also active with many Henry County civic organizations.

  • Metropolis – Frieda Koch was nominated by the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging. Koch started her employment with Happy Hearts Senior Center as an assistant cook in 1977, at the age of 60. Years later, she still gets to work at 6:30 a.m. She loves to cook and has trained many cooks at the center.She also volunteers her time cooking for St. Johnís United Church of Christ at the dumplings and chili dinners. She also volunteers in a local nursing home. After a lifetime of hard work farming, delivering mail and working in a factory, Koch still sews and takes care of her house, which is described as the "prettiest one in town."

  • Quincy – Frances and George Broemmer were nominated by West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. The Broemmers have volunteered with: Blessing Hospital; Blessing Hospital Home Care; Share; Adams County Council for Senior Citizens, Meals Plus; Quincy Senior Center; RSVP; Adult Day Care, senior dances, Senior Center Store and more. They have also donated many years to various boards within the Quincy Senior Center, Meals Plus for Seniors and the Senior Center Building Council Advisory Board. "If the Broemmers arenít working at the Senior Center in a volunteer capacity, one can find them socializing in the pool room, craft workshop, offices or eating at a meal site," their nomination states. The couple will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary in October.

  • Schaumburg – Kiran Chaturvedi was nominated by the Suburban Area Agency on Aging. Chaturvedi began her employment with Community Nutrition Network in 1987 as a Food Service Aide and became Nutrition Site Manager in 1990. Chaturvedi has developed partnerships with villages, businesses and other community organizations in the area to help the senior and disabled population. She has worked to increase awareness and understanding for all ethnic backgrounds among seniors who participate in programs at The Barn through special meals, recipes, entertainment and displays about different cultures. She has also developed community projects for seniors to make items for homebound seniors and nursing home residents.

  • Springfield – Marcia Brown was nominated by Project LIFE Area Agency on Aging. Brown began volunteering at Project LIFE in 1994 and recruited many volunteers to deliver meals to homebound seniors each weekday. Brownís work also resulted in the addition of one meal route. She is described as a great volunteer with an extremely positive outlook. She is also a wonderful motivator for other volunteers.

  • Trenton – Henry Kasson and Mel Barrett were nominated by the Southwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Last year, employees of the Trenton Nutrition Center were informed the center would close. Mayor Conley quickly appointed Kasson and Barrett to look into any options to save the center. Kasson and Barrett were able to save the center by getting the city of Trenton to operate the site with assistance from the Area Agency. Kasson and Barrett found volunteers to assist cooks, pick up seniors for group meals, and deliver meals to homes. "There were many times when the project consumed the better part of their day and sometimes into the night," according to their nomination. "The Nutrition Site would not have remained functional had it not been for the efforts of Henry Kasson and Mel Barrett."



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