Who inspires you? Perhaps one of the five recipients of this year’s Inspire Positive Aging Awards will do just that!
Since 2006, Sound Generations has granted this award to older adults whose lives inspire us to age with grace, enthusiasm, creativity, hope and energy. On June 9, 2016, Sound Generations granted awards in five categories: Community Service, Health & Wellness, Intergenerational Impact, Advocacy and Activism and Lifelong Learning. Anyone could nominate a King County resident who is age 60 or older. There were 44 nominations total.
The five 2016 award recipients are listed below, with commentary provided by their nominators:
Richard (“Dick”) Body (82) – Community Service
Dick’s volunteer experience has included three Sound Generations programs—Hyde Shuttle, Volunteer Transportation and Meals on Wheels—as well as South King Fire & Rescue, and Des Moines/Normandy Park Senior Activity Center.
With the South King Fire & Rescue, Dick is the designated volunteer driver for their 1941 Chevrolet fire truck. Many a summer weekend, Dick and his faithful stuffed dalmatian, Hydrant, attend community festivals, farmers markets, parades, and senior centers. Every July, Dick hosts a drawing for one lucky senior center participant to win a ride in the antique fire truck in Des Moines’ annual Waterland Parade. Dick also delivers interdepartmental mail for all eight fire stations on a weekly basis.
Dick wears many hats at the Des Moines/Normandy Park Senior Activity Center. He is a volunteer driver for day trips, helping area seniors enjoy all the fun places to visit and explore in the Pacific Northwest. He is the official “carpenter,” making a beautiful table rack for the center, repairing TV trays, donating wood sailboat mobiles and ornate memory boxes to the annual auction. Every Thursday since 2003, Dick has served his Meals on Wheels route, packing and delivering meals.
As his nominator said, “He doesn’t just do his job—he goes the extra mile to bring a smile, wipe a tear, make a child laugh, a dog wag its tail, a homebound senior feel special and loved.”
Geraldine Allsopp (93) – Health & Wellness
Gerri is an inspiration to many, many people—in her community, her church, at the YMCA where she exercises, in the music community, and with generations of young people. Everyone who knows her just says: “Wow!” She is everything we all wish to be—healthy, active, involved, capable, and flexible. She has a cheerful spirit and gentle soul, takes on new adventures, and always embraces life.
Gerri’s first love is music. In the past, she was the choir director at Normandy Park UCC. She taught music at North Hill Elementary school and continues to give piano and voice lessons. She loves to cook, entertain, host functions and visiting musicians, work in her beautiful gardens, and take yoga classes every week. At Normandy Park UCC, she sings in the choir (occasionally directing), serves on committees, helps in Vacation Bible School, and plays the piano at community meals.
Her nominator says, “I am in her yoga classes and love doing yoga with Gerri. Just watching her perform the asanas encourages me to keep going towards the goal of being a flexible, graceful, strong 93-year-old! Her instructors and classmates are also in awe. In other words, Gerri has boundless energy and gives all of us hope—that we, too, can age gracefully with a full meaningful life.”
Dr. Dominick Minotti (79) – Intergenerational Impact
Dr. Minotti is a retired physician and Army colonel who is an inspiration to all because of his energy, drive, and dedication to serving people in four different generations. He has served for many years as a volunteer board member for Gay City Health Project on Capitol Hill and is passionate about youth outreach.
In addition, Nick volunteered for many years for Seattle Central College’s Compass program, and continues to tutor several special needs youth and young adults. He mentors them in setting higher expectations of themselves and developing greater skills in self-sufficiency in their journeys to independence.
Nick has also helped improve the health of low-income young and older adults with serious mental illness by serving as chair of Navos’ capital campaign major gifts committee. He provided the administrative support for the St. James children’s music program for years and still volunteers for concerts and provides support to the music office at St. James Cathedral. Finally, he sings in St. James’ nationally acclaimed choir and serves as a board member for the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington.
His nominator said, “Nick seeks out ways to help individuals with special challenges: helping a younger person coming out of jail to establish a home and job; helping someone lost in the foster care system since early childhood to establish stability and a career in adulthood; accompanying friends to major medical consultations in order to explain what has transpired and assist them in making decisions about care; and serving on the advisory council to establish support for older adult LGBTQ folks.”
Fai Coffin (76) – Advocacy & Activism
A lifelong activist for peace, justice, and community understanding, Fai has demonstrated continuing efforts to promote inclusiveness and connection, especially for women, elders, working people, lesbians, and communities of color. Through her work at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, she has built bridges and encouraged supportive networking as well as building connections through activities that are just plain fun.
Fai is an ardent supporter of Gullah Days in Columbia City, the Life Enrichment Book Store, the Community Alliance for Social Justice, and the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, where she has given art classes in paper folding for many years. Her matchless gift to lesbian elders in southeast Seattle has been ALISS (Aging Lesbians in Southeast Seattle). They meet monthly in the senior center and have movie nights or potlucks in between in various venues. Through ALISS, separate groups have flourished, including “End of Life” issues, “Helping Hands,” and “Political Empowerment.”
Her nominator said, “Fai is always fun, but as an outgrowth of her continued inspiration—which is Fai just being Fai—we are discovering new ways of belonging, perhaps the essence of health and contentment.”
Barbara “BJ” Johnson (95) – Lifelong Learning
Barbara is the most senior of the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center’s hula group, The Kupunas. Kupuna is a Hawaiian word meaning “honored elder who has acquired enough life experience to become a family and community leader.” Barbara joined the group when she was 87 and celebrated her 95th birthday this year. She practices every week and performs with the group at least two times a year. Her infectious smile and positive attitude is an inspiration for all 15 members. She mesmerizes audience members with her grace.
Despite two hip surgeries and surviving lung cancer (although she never smoked), Barb loves to dance. When she was in her 80s, her daughters gave her tap shoes and a tap platform. Little did they know that she would tap dance for hours at a time.
Her nominator said, “It is a joy to watch Barb dance. Her love of hula and the delight she has in life shines through. She is such an inspiration to all of the Kupunas. We aspire to dance like her until we are 95+ years old and to enjoy every facet of life like Barb. She is truly the most beautiful and inspirational senior one could ever meet!”
Other nominees included Claire Anderson, Char Ashcraft, William Beck, Genevieve Benjamin, Norberto “Kuyabert” Caoili, Jean Carroll, Jim McClaine, Pat Cranston, Dagmar Cronn, April Eng, Rosita Farinas, Mollie Fitzsimons, Melinda and Barry Franklin, Zoe Freeman, Mary Fry, Carolyn Geyman, Patricia “Patti” Gibbs, Jeff Guite, Howard Hansen, Sylvia Haven, Dori Johanson, Isabel Jones, Pil Jung Kim, Ann King, Harriet Leonard, Russell Lundwall, Jerry Lloyd, Erlinda Lorenzo, Gloria “Jean” Matthews, Cheryl McDaniel, Pragmacio “Boyd” Quinanola, Barbara Reul, Juana Royster, Gloria Sandoz, Sharon Schaffner, Vernette Stowers, Ruth Vogel, Barbara “Barbie” Whorton, and Elaine Williams.
Sound Generations (formerly Senior Services) provides older adults and adults with disabilities with vital resources to help them thrive. Community partner sites include Ballard NW Senior Center, Central Area Senior Center, Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Senior Center, Sno-Valley Senior Center, Southeast Seattle Senior Center, Senior Center of West Seattle and the new “Senior Center without walls” in Northeast Seattle, LakeCitySeniors.org. Learn more at www.soundgenerations.org.