On a snowy day in November, Governor Jim Douglas and I presented 2007s Healthy Aging Awards to seven older Vermonters and two organizations that embody the energy and wisdom we all wish for as we grow in years. The Governor's Commission on Healthy Aging, which I chair, created these awards to highlight the contributions of individuals and organizations that are helping to create a culture in Vermont that values, promotes and supports healthy aging. I would like you to meet the seven individuals selected for this years awards. Vigor and Vitality: St. Johnsburys Lorette Desrochers
Lorette walks two miles a day, attends Senior Aerobics twice a week and is a tireless volunteer. As a member of the St. Johnsburys Beautification Committee, she weeds, waters and maintains the large flowerbed on Main Street. One day a week she is the greeter and receptionist just down the street at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, and once a week greets visitors and tourists at the towns Welcome Center. She belongs to the Four Seasons Neighborhood Group, heading up the Neighborhood Watch program. In her spare time she quilts, braids and reads. Individuals nominated for this category should demonstrate extraordinary physical or mental achievements. Lorette Desrochers personifies the vigor and vitality we all want to have as we age! Love of Learning: Castletons Eleanor Ellie Anderson
This category spotlights a passion for pursuing or sharing knowledge gained through study or life experience. Awardee taught computer classes at the Castleton elementary school and Castleton State College for more than 30 years, retiring in 2003. Now, as an active member of the Castleton Community Seniors organization, her love of learning inspired her to initiate Cyber-Seniors computer classes at the Castleton Community Center. In the past three years she has taught more than 57 seniors how to navigate the Internet, master word processing, establish e-mail accounts and use spreadsheets to create budgets and keep track of household expenses. The best part of her classes is the camaraderie created by the seniors while learning a new and challenging skill. The many seniors who return to take a follow-up class prove that Ellie Andersons patience and joy in learning are infectious. Community Involvement: Burlingtons Joe Popecki
Three individuals are recipients of this award this year. After a thirty-plus year career in the library at St. Michaels College Joe Popecki went on to serve as an archivist and then as program coordinator for Elderhostel, proving that learning does not end when you leave college. In the twenty years since he retired, Joe has embarked on a robust second career in volunteerism. On the board of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, he worked to inspire other retired professionals to give back to the community through service and civic engagement. As Burlingtons Ward Four City Clerk, he has served to ensure fair and just elections. His concern for Vermonts future is balanced with his dedication to the preservation of its past. He is one of the founders, and first President, of the Vermont Archaeological Society currently serves on the Board of the Vermont Historic Preservation Advisory Council. Joe has demonstrated respect and appreciation for the responsibilities of citizenship and service to society. Community Involvement: Stamfords Bob Armata
Stamford seniors had a dream that affordable senior housing be available in their town so that older residents dont have to move elsewhere when it comes time to leave their homes. As a selectman, our Bob worked with seniors to explore the possibilities, but when his term as selectman ended, his dedication continued. He has given hundreds of hours of volunteer time working with Housing Vermont, hydro-geologists, the zoning board, land owners and community members to help this project advance. Bob is a visionary; he sees possibilities, and is devoted to helping his community. Community Involvement: Castletons Jean Britt
Jean received her RN degree in 1951, her BS in Nursing in 1982 and soon afterwards her Masters in Nursing. She was a full time faculty professor at Castleton State College beginning in 1985, and Chair of the Nursing Department from 1986 1996. Seeing our workforce shortages in nursing and health care, she came out of retirement to teach LNAs at Stafford Technical Center and moved back to her roots at Castleton to educate nurses in Community Health. Jean continues to teach the importance for providing care outside institutional walls, to students in the Rutland Area VNA, Hospice, Senior Centers, Park Street Health Share (the Rutland free clinic) as well as elementary and high schools in Fair Haven and Castleton. Against the Odds: West Charlestons Carolyn Clapper
This category is about overcoming awesome challenges and about eight years ago, Carolyn Clapper encountered a huge one, when she lost her eyesight. Within about a year, she had left her job, stopped driving and begun to learn to live without her eyesight. Now, with seeing-eye-dog Aladdin by her side, Carolyn is an advocate for others who are blind or visually impaired. She has worked with the Secretary of State to ensure that all disabled Vermonters have can vote privately and independently. The Lutheran Blind Missions Christian Blind Institute selected her to establish outreach centers for the blind and visually impaired at local churches throughout the United States. An active member of her Native American Abenaki community, Carolyn is a member of the Native Speakers Bureau and has worked with Native American shamans on ways to build community and help those in need. Service Champion: Montpeliers Ed Koenemann
This award is intended for specific individuals that promote Healthy Aging in the areas of physical activity, learning, community involvement, or intergenerational relationships. In 1998, Ed Koenemann retired after serving 17 years as Vermont State Park Director, the longest tenured State Park Director to have served in that position. He also served as a part time instructor and adjunct professor at Lyndon State College, Johnson State College and the University of Vermont for 26 years. In 1999, Ed became a volunteer instructor for the AARP Driver Safety Program, which helps an older driver to remain a safe and independent driver by addressing age-related changes such as eyesight, hearing, and reflexes. In 2004, Ed was appointed State Coordinator of the AARP Driver Safety Program where he directs the activities of over 30 volunteers and has established class sponsorship networks with organizations such as our local hospitals that promote the program through their Health and Wellness Programming. Once upon a time, people associated aging with poor health, isolation and loss of productivity. The Healthy Aging Awardees of 2007 demonstrate that Vermonters in their 70s, 80s and 90s can enjoy independent, active living as they continue to contribute to their communities and our states quality of life.