On May 16, The Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center, 201 Park Center Drive, Wadsworth, was once again the setting for the 11th Senior Advocate Hall of Fame ceremony hosted by The Wadsworth Older Adults Foundation and the Soprema Senior Center.
Following refreshments, WOAF President Rich Berlin acknowledged the event's significant sponsors - Home Instead Senior Care, KAZ, Concordia at Sumner, The Village of St. Edward, and Avenue - and then asked Michael Kovack to begin the program.
The WOAF Hall of Fame was established in 2008 to "recognize those who make a significant difference in the lives of older adults in our community."
About 90 people gathered to pay tribute to the 2018 honorees who now join the more than 40 individuals, organizations, and businesses that have been inducted since the Hall of Fame's inception. Those recipients are Mary Jo Morse, Bev Long, Russ Corwin, and The Wadsworth Blue Tip Festival. Pam Myers received the Leatherman Lifetime Achievement Award.
First presenter Jim Dull entertained the audience with a bit of history and many amusing and heartwarming anecdotes about the recipient, the annual Blue Tip Festival, which will mark its 47th year in 2019. The five-day community celebration starts with a parade and the lighting of a giant 20-foot blue tip match; the world-famous matches for which the festival is named were for many years manufactured in Wadsworth.
Tom Morris, treasurer of the Blue Tip committee, accepted on behalf of the volunteers who staff the festival. He described this event as the life blood of the community. Revenue from the festival are donated to Wadsworth area non-profit groups. He reminded everyone this year's festivities begin June 18.
Presenter Rich Berlin said Wadsworth needs people like the next honoree, Russ Corwin, a Certified Public Accountant, president of RW Corwin & Company, Inc. in Wadsworth, and president of RCX Billing Solutions Cuyahoga Falls. Corwin, a Wadsworth resident for more than 33 years, goes above and beyond to maintain a strong community involvement by providing accounting services for WOAF, individuals, and many other organizations. He is a member of numerous associations and serves on countless boards.
The quiet-spoken Corwin expressed genuine gratitude for the honor, and praised WOAF as a fantastic organization for seniors.
Former WOAF President Dick Davis (who kiddingly said no one should have to follow Jim Dull) presented the next award to Bev Long, Admissions and Marketing Director for Liberty Residence I & II in Wadsworth. He defined an advocate, summarizing with the words 'kind' and 'genuine concern for the welfare of others' to introduce Long, who has a long history of serving in many capacities in the community. Long has served on numerous boards, chaired the Blue Tip Festival, was president of WOAF, and received the 2016 Rosie Award Business Manager of the Year.
Long thanked everyone for the honor, gave a shout-out to many, said she was proud to serve with the people who built this community, and encouraged the audience to make a difference in other people's lives simply by remembering them.
Wadsworth City Mayor Robin Laubaugh introduced the next award winner, Mary Jo Morris, an attorney with Palecek, McIlvaine, Hoffman & Morse, in Wadsworth. She said boards and committees in the community need people like Morris, who has assisted the Foundation more than 10 years with her expert advice and help.
Morris, who is involved in the community by serving on various boards, told the audience she felt the community welcomed her. She graciously expressed thanks and said it was an honor to be recognized and to provide service to enhance the good work the Foundation does for the community.
Roberta Woodard opened her presentation of the Leatherman Lifetime Achievement Award winner by saying, "Pam (Myers) is a legend." Myers, who has spent three million hours serving seniors, started Home Instead Senior Care in 1997, but she learned as a very young girl how necessary and important in-home services are. In addition to serving on innumerable boards involving senior services and care, Myers expanded Home Instead's resources by creating holiday meal programs for home-bound seniors. The ongoing program, which provided 35 delivered meals in 2001, grew to more than 850 in 2018. Myers has repeatedly received recognition for her contributions. Woodard described Myers as being kind and having a heart of gold.
Myers, who is reluctant to speak before groups, realized she had to do more than say 'thank you' and stepped out of her comfort zone to do so. She shared her list of blessings with the audience: 1)for her family, who always encouraged her to push forward; 2)for having grown up in an intergenerational environment where she learned so much, especially that older people are works of art; 3)for teachers, mentors, and friends who taught her not to blame or judge but to become a problem solver; and 4)to be able to work to help others and give back.
Myers issued a challenge to the audience. There is a booming problem for which we are not prepared, the baby boomers. The number of people over the age of 65 is now greater than the number under the age of 5; only one percent of charity dollars goes to seniors. "Help seniors continue to dream and build."
Attendees Robert and Phyllis Leatherman, for whom this award is named, were recognized.
A Video Montage was created by SHE Did It Videography.
Jill Bell, committee chairperson who worked with Rich Berlin, Jim Dull, and Nancy Likens, closed the evening by thanking everyone for attending and supporting this event.