Annual Event Pays Tribute to Older Adults from Across New York State for their Contributions to their Communities
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) today celebrated Older New Yorkers’ Day virtually, recognizing 87 volunteers from across the state who demonstrate their extraordinary value every day to their family, friends, and community. The celebration traditionally takes place each year in May in Albany; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year it was premiered as a virtual event. To view the event video, please visit: https://bit.ly/ONYD2020.
“We have highlighted for years the significant contributions older New Yorkers make to their families, communities, and the economy,” said NYSOFA Acting Director Greg Olsen. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important volunteers of all ages are, particularly those age 60 and older, as they have put themselves at risk to provide critical services to older adults in their homes to slow the spread of the virus. We recognize how essential our state’s older volunteers are—without their efforts, many individuals would not have the food, supplies, and medications they need to help ensure their health and safety. Every day, these volunteers are saving lives. I could not be more thankful and proud.”
Annually, Older Americans Month highlights the incredible efforts and diverse contributions older adults make to their communities. In New York, there are almost 1 million volunteers age 55+ who contribute approximately 500 million hours of service each year at an economic value of more than $13 billion. The 2020 Older Americans Month theme is “Make Your Mark,” which perfectly captures the role older New Yorkers are making during this pandemic. Their time, experience, and talents benefit family, peers, and neighbors every day. This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make to support and strengthen their communities.
Each year on Older New Yorkers’ Day, the New York State Office for the Aging and its 59 area agencies on aging across the state honor extraordinary individuals, who through their actions, demonstrate the spirit of civic engagement and selflessness. Many older New Yorkers have been providing essential services during this pandemic as a result of Matilda’s Law by delivering meals, groceries, supplies, and medication; providing transportation to critical medical appointments such as dialysis and cancer treatments; and making phone calls to older adults to combat social isolation. These individuals are true heroes who deserve our gratitude for being on the front lines to help others.
All of our older volunteers show the true side of aging—that it’s not about artificial numbers that represent age, because how old we are is not what defines us. It is our actions, passions, commitments, perseverance, and goals that define us—and an artificial number can never be placed on these.
This year’s Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration honors 87 individuals from 49 counties who volunteer their time and energy to more than 460 different organizations throughout the year to help others.
- The Governor’s Recognition for Exemplary Service was awarded to Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel of Chemung County;
- The New York State Assembly’s Older New Yorker of the Year award was presented to Mary Anne Sears of Monroe County;
- The New York State Senate’s Outstanding Contribution by an Older New Yorker award was presented to Beverly Thorp of Madison County; and
- The Area Agency on Aging Volunteer Innovations Award was presented to the Schuyler County Learning Pod Program.
NYSOFA regularly highlights exceptional volunteers on our website and through social media, and every day through the rest of 2020 we will showcase this year’s honorees as well as those volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to serve their communities and are continuing to work to address the needs of older adults during the pandemic.
About the New York State Office for the Aging and Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly New York
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.
New York is nationally recognized for being the first age-friendly state in the nation. Using the state’s Prevention Agenda as the overarching framework, in 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a Health Across All Policies approach, where public and private partners work together to positively impact population health by marrying health care, preventive health, and community design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, young and old.