Eight advocates, care providers, and volunteers were recognized for outstanding efforts on behalf of older adults at Serving Seniors 2019.
The awards ceremony was hosted by Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) on Nov. 7. The primary theme was recognizing those who have made an impact in the lives of local older adult, something SCES Executive Director Paul Hollings said he’s seen firsthand over the past year.
“I have visited with elders who are still living independently and safely thanks to your hard work on their behalf,” he told the 230 guests in attendance. “I have met clients who would otherwise be in a nursing home, or evicted from their housing, or not eating sufficiently, or on a general path of decline, were it not for your efforts.”
Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs Elizabeth Chen was an honored guest and speaker. She emphasized state and local efforts to make Massachusetts more aging friendly, adding it’s important to celebrate successes and the people who make it possible.
“Each day in our 351 communities a story of healthy aging is written,” said Chen. “People are cared for, they are fed, housed, advised, comforted, advocated for, protected, engaged, enriched, and provided with opportunities for meaning and purpose. This is a story that all of you co-author every single day, and it’s something we should be very proud of.”
The following awards were presented at Serving Seniors 2019:
Barbara Lester of Cambridge Health Alliance received the Kahn Collaboration award, which recognizes those who work to strengthen the coordination and availability of services for older people and people with disabilities.
Lester was recognized for tirelessly working to connect older adults with helpful resources in her capacity as a Complex Care Manager. The award was presented by Protective Services Case Manager Jessica Chezia, who told of how Lester helped her find and assist a homeless elder who was facing serious health and behavioral challenges.
“Barbara’s commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of this elder was amazing,” said Chezia.
Rob Walker from the Department of Mental Health received a Sousa Advocacy Award, which honors those who stand-up and speak out for the rights, needs, and abilities of elders. The award was presented by Mental Health Social Worker Cassie Cramer, who described Walker as an effective advocate who has played a key role in expanding programs that support older adults facing behavioral health challenges, such as hoarding.
Marta Evora of Homemaker Services received a Compassionate Care Professional Award, which recognizes professional caregivers who demonstrate uncommon compassion while ensuring the highest quality of care.
In presenting the award, bilingual case manager Stephanie Lacerda described Evora as immensely popular with her Portuguese speaking clients, saying she’s a hard worker who routinely goes above and beyond.
Hanna Kafil, of Cambridge, received a Compassionate Care Professional Award for providing outstanding care at Properzi Manor over the past 10 years.
In presenting the award, Aging Information Center Director Dana Beguerie described Kafil as a remarkable person and caregiver, whose positive outlook and infectious smile are very popular with the residents.
Robert McGowan, of Somerville, received the Outstanding Caregiver Award, which honors a friend or family member who demonstrates uncommon devotion and strength during the caregiving process.
McGowan was nominated by Social Worker Eliza Royer, who described him as a thoughtful, kind, and compassionate caregiver for his grandmother.
Eileen Sommer, of Cambridge, received the Tingle Volunteerism award, which recognizes those who give of their time and energy to benefit local older residents.
Sommer was nominated by Money Management Bill Payer & Compliance Manager Rachel Marta Greenberg, who told of how Eileen helped a bedridden older adult get her finances in order—helping with everything from balancing her checkbook to drug insurance coverage.
Catherine Hoffman, of Cambridge, received the Jalna Perry LGBT award, which recognizes those who work to create a positive and affirming environment for LGBT elders and caregivers.
The award was presented by SCES Board Member Pearl Hines, who spoke of Hoffman’s lengthy track record of state and local activism, which includes producing the 1982 documentary on homophobia, Pink Triangles.
Milagro Mancia from the SCES Nutrition program received the Spirit of SCES award, which recognizes an employee for caring, commitment and teamwork. The award was presented by Nutrition Director Meghan Ostrander, described Mancia as one of the most dedicated agency employees. Mancia started with the agency as a Meals on Wheels driver 10 years ago, and now serves as the Home Delivered Meals Supervisor.
“It is never boring in meal delivery, and Milagro handles staffing shortages by jumping in to help deliver, but not until she makes sure all her drivers are ready to go,” said Ostrander. “Milagro truly loves Meals on Wheels, and we cannot ask for more than someone who loves their job of leading the team and representing us in the community.”