The new programs and services meant the world to the seniors who took advantage of them, said Hazel. It gave them a chance to experience new things and, in some cases, find a new lease on life, she said.
"One of my biggest joys has been being able to see the happiness and success stories of the folks who use our services," said Hazel. "We have many people who have come to us who were lonely and looking for opportunities and many of them now have become these stellar volunteers who just really make the programs work. "
In the past 17 years, there have been several other milestones for the council, said Hazel. In 1995, the organization gained much positive attention when Hazel was appointed to the White House Conference on Aging by Congressman John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor. Being invited to participate in the conference, which meets once every 10 years to makes policy recommendations regarding the aged to the President and Congress, was an outstanding honor, she said. That and other collaboratives gave her the opportunity to share knowledge from other parts of the country with her colleagues back home.
"I think being able to go outside the community and meet with other people who are doing the same kinds of jobs has been a great way to learn other things that are going on across the United States," said Hazel. "We've been able to be creative and do some really wonderful things."
The establishment of a formal computer lab, with an award-winning program overseen by Edward and Jean Schiffler of Peru, has also been a remarkable moment in the council's history, said Hazel. In the program's infancy, participants met in the dining room of a place on Elm Street with a single computer. It has since grown to offer approximately 30 computers for public use, teaching seniors about the Internet, typing and other ways to use the machines.