Senior Citizen of the Year Award

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Categories:
The Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care honored two area seniors yesterday with the Senior Citizen of the Year Award and the Mildred Parfitt Award at the annual Older American's Month Celebration held at the Big Flats Community Center. Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli began the celebration with the reading of a proclamation designating May as Older Americans Month in Chemung County. The Senior Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Mary Beechey of Big Flats. Beechey was recognized for her volunteer work with RSVP donating 3,863 hours of her time serving others. Mary began volunteering with Meals on Wheels in 1987 and has been very active in the volunteer community ever since. She transcribes books for the blind, is active with the Over-the-County Players performing skits at local senior homes and clubs and dresses as Samantha the Skunk for the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Council teaching children the dangers of smoking. She also gives her time at the Free Community Kitchen, Near Westside Neighborhood, and Steele Memorial Library. Mary is described as a compassionate woman who has taught her children what it means to really be part of a community being quoted as saying, "It isn't enough to live alongside your neighbors-you need to have the courage to let your life become part of theirs, and vice-verse." She also wanted her children to want to help others and make the world a better place. The Senior Citizen Award is given to a senior who has devoted time and talent in serving the community and receives no compensation for their deeds. The Mildred Parfitt Award was given to Connie Bergh of Southport. Bergh has been a member of RSVP for over 16 years having donated 6,179 hours to helping others. She has volunteered at St. Joseph's Hospital for the past 28 years and also volunteers at the Samaritan Center. Connie has been a volunteer with the Senior Notebook team since 1994 and co-hosts the "Wit & Wisdom" segment on the Senior Notebook television program. Connie is described as an inspiration to all of those who like to volunteer, very caring and always willing to help in any way she can. This Award, established in 1989, honors a Chemung County individual, group, or agency by recognizing outstanding efforts to improve and serve the lives of older persons without financial remuneration. The award was established in recognition of Mildred Parfitt, who served as chairman of the Chemung County Office for the Aging Advisory Committee from 1973 until 1979. She continued as an active member of the Advisory Committee until her death in 1980. Older Americans Month was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. Historically Older Americans Month, which was called Senior Citizens Month until 1980 when President Jimmy Carter officially changed the name, has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. The theme of this year's celebration-Older Americans: Connecting the Community-pays homage to the many ways in which older adults bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of our communities. Their shared histories, diverse experiences, and wealth of knowledge have made our culture, economy, and local character what they are today. The theme also highlights the many ways technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier and more engaged lives. Older Americans step up to help one another as well. Across the country, seniors connect with other seniors by delivering meals, helping with home repair, assisting with shopping, and offering companionship, counseling, and care. Their efforts remind us that when older adults are active and engaged in their communities, everyone benefits. Help us celebrate Older Americans Month! Join your neighbors not only to recognize what older citizens bring to our communities, but also to help them continue playing a vital role in weaving a unique and lasting community fabric. In addition to this celebration, the Chemung County Office for the Aging will hold its 21st Annual Senior Games, from May 11th to May 26th. The 2011 Senior Games will highlight the active life of people 50 years of age and older who over the past year exercise and train for this fun and competitive event.
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