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  2001 Press Releases  

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

May 15, 2001

Unique Achievement Awards
to be Presented

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, the winners will be honored at a ceremony on May 23, 2001, at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield.

"Older Americans Month provides the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the individuals and programs that make a positive impact on the lives of seniors in our state," said Schreiber. "The Illinois Department on Aging is proud to join Governor George Ryan and the stateís Area Agencies on Aging in saluting them."

The 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:

  • Beaverville – Barbara Harris, 62, was nominated by the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. She is the Family Development Specialist at Willow Estates Community Center, where she supervises the senior nutrition program, makes daily reassurance calls, conducts outreach, and helps seniors apply for various forms of assistance. She is also a caregiver to her mother and is an active volunteer with St. Anne Woods Community Chapel. She has served as the Chapelís financial secretary and coordinates volunteers to escort older persons to medical appointments and other events.

  • DuPage County – Metropolitan Family Services was nominated by Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging for its Senior Respite Guest House program, which began in 1983 as a result of community concern about the growing needs of caregiving families. The program enables seniors to stay in a caring environment on a temporary basis while caregivers may receive needed respite. The program has "bed and breakfast–like" accommodations and allows senior guests comfort and specialized attention from volunteers. The average age of a guest is 85, and guests stay an average of six days. According to many caregivers, the Guest House Program has helped them better cope with caregiving and has given them a needed break.

  • Moline – Jon "Jack" Michaelsen, 61, was nominated by Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging. Michaelsen is the support group facilitator for the "Quad Cities Grandparents Who Are Raising Grandchildren Support Group," which he and his wife, Sharon, founded last year. The group offers guidance and support for more than sixty people, and child care is available when the group meets. A Spanish translator is also available for most sessions. The Michaelsens are raising a granddaughter and are her legal guardians. Michaelsen is also active with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Advisory Board of the Trinity Regional Health Systems Parish Nurse Program. He holds a Masterís degree in Divinity and is pastor of the Union Congregational Church.

  • Mount Carmel – Eleanor Painter, 70, was an extraordinary caregiver to her parents while also raising her grandchild and working full-time. She now works at the Southeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging, which nominated her. She works aggressively to educate seniors about the recent expansion of the stateís Circuit Breaker program which helps seniors pay for medications.

  • Palatine – Dominic Rossi, 77, has served the Suburban Area Agency on Aging for 27 years, and he now serves on its Board of Directors. He retired from the Social Security Administration after many years of service ensuring older people received the Social Security and Medicare benefits they had earned. Rossi is also being honored for being an outstanding caregiver to his sister. His nomination by the Area Agency states Rossi "has demonstrated professional leadership, community involvement and family love with sincerity, humility and quiet and effective persuasion."

  • Peoria – College of Education and Health Sciences Department of Educational and Leadership and Human Development, Bradley University. The college was nominated by Central Illinois Agency on Aging for its commitment to improving the quality of life for caregivers. The college has helped graduate interns to lead counseling and support groups and provide services, including respite. It has addressed stress management, discipline, medical care, grief and loss, guilt and self-esteem issues experienced by caregivers. More than 160 caregivers and those for whom they care have benefited by this progressive program.

  • Quincy – Chuck Scholz, 48, is mayor of Quincy and was nominated by the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging for enhancing the lives of Quincy seniors. Scholz is an advocate for better transportation for elderly and disabled residents, has worked to improve senior citizens homes, worked to get a full-time Elderly Service Officer to work in the Senior Center in Quincy, and strongly believes in giving seniors a voice in government. He is also being acknowledged for averting a potential disaster when the Lampe Hi Rise was left without heat when boilers were replaced.

  • Rockford – Dr. Allen Ottens, 53, an associate professor of counseling at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, was nominated by the Northwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging for his help to the Agency in forming the Eldercare Support and Education Group. The support group meets monthly in Rockford and Dr. Ottens serves as its facilitator. His nomination states that Dr. Ottens "has shown compassion and respect for the challenges caregivers face, and he has given them hope and a special place to learn and share with others"

  • Springfield – Caregiver Interfaith Volunteer Services (CIVS) was nominated by Project LIFE Area Agency on Aging. CIVS was organized five years ago by Third Age Living of St. Johnís Hospital to bring churches and volunteers together to share resources. The program has experienced tremendous growth and currently includes seventeen congregations in Springfield and over 400 volunteers. Services provided are transportation, errand running, friendly visits, home repair and maintenance, respite care and general household duties (pet care, hanging pictures, etc.). Nearly 1,000 people have been helped to date.

  • Woodlawn – Earl Spohr, 70, is retired from the U.S. Air Force and is now dedicated to advocacy for seniors. He is Southern Illinois District Coordinator for AARP; serves on TRIAD, which works to reduce crimes against seniors; volunteers as a counselor with the Illinois Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Program; chairs the Illinois Foundation for Quality Health Care-Medicare Consumer Advisory Committee; serves on the Board of Directors with Crosswalk Community Action Agency, which helps people with energy assistance; drives children to Shrinerís Hospitals throughout the Midwest; chairs the Southern Illinois Chapter of the Diabetes Association, and appears on many television and radio shows to speak about senior issues.

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