2020 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Congratulations to Our 2020 IPAA Recipients!

Advocacy + Activism

Trudy James

Trudy James, 82

Trudy has dedicated years coming to understand death and grief in new and deeper ways. From 1989 to 2007, she has directed programs for AIDS CareTeam, Cancer Care Alliance and has served over 500 men and women CarePartners with AIDS. Trudy is a credentialed interfaith chaplain and owner of a small business called Heartwork. At age 76, she tried her hand at documentary filmmaking and created Speaking of Dying which coincides with her end-of-life planning sessions, annual retreats and Grief, Loss and the Holidays presentation. Trudy has become a social media pro and maintains her website and Facebook page for Speaking of Dying. Her offerings, happy demeanor, energy and her commitment to her work inspire many. Trudy says that getting older is a privilege and that her life is better than ever at 82. She is the oldest person in her yoga class; her commitment to mind, body, heart and spirit wholeness shows others what is possible for aging.

Community Service

Mohan Khandekar

Mohan Khandekar, 77

Retirement gave Mohan ability to take his passion for volunteering to new heights. He is an active volunteer and spends 20-22 hours per week in these various activities, but still finds time to be a loving and attentive family man. Mohan has been a lead volunteer at Northshore Senior Center, an Information Resource Person for SeaTac, an assistant badminton coach at Kirkland Middle School and Lake Washington High School, is a board member for the Kenmore Community Club (KCC), is the audio/ video/ still photography and graphics resource chief for IAWW (India Association of Western Washington), and works with children at the Seattle Art Museum in the “Youth and Family Programs” organized by the Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF). The enthusiasm and good cheer with which he helps so many diverse communities is so visible, that it makes him a living example of a person who has aged well and inspires others to do the same.

Defining Inspiration

Val Brustad

Val Brustad, 73

Val leads a life that makes you think of aging in terms of impact rather than years. Having been a caretaker for his mother who had Alzheimer’s, he supported his wife who was an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator. After Val’s wife passes away unexpectedly, he stepped up and trained to continue the group in her honor. His sense of aging is communicated in terms of being part of a community and making sure that no one is left alone. Rather than focusing on his loss Val focused on the needs of others–on how he could step in and be service of others. Each person involved in the support group can attest to how Val’s words, his vulnerability, his wisdom has shaped their perspective to the disease, caregiving and grief. It is this influence and ability to leave a mark, that inspires those around him to be more forgiving to themselves, get up, and fight another day.

Health + Wellness

Shirin Velji

Shirin Velji, 81

A former teacher in Tanzania, Shirin continues to mentor and inspire everyone she meets. She loves to inspire and help people of all generations, especially the younger generations. She brightens the days of the residents she visits at the Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living department of Emerald Heights, where she also volunteered to make masks to protect them against Coronavirus.She volunteered at the Fitness Center where the Fitness Exam is done twice a year, cheering for the athletes and welcoming the spectators. Shirin worked for the South East Asia Operational Department to work on Urban Projects (Roads, Water, Housing, etc.) in Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Her enthusiasm in her work is evident with the stories she shares and the lifelong friendships she has made. She has dedicated her life to helping others, and it’s truly inspiring.

Intergenerational Impact

Sadru Kachra

Sadru Kachra, 79

Having grown up in Kenya and seeing the living condition of those around him, he spent his whole life giving his to others to better their quality of life. One of his favorite projects, which he says was “heartwarming and satisfying” was building two extra classrooms to a one-room school. Now that he lives in Washington, Sadru continues to spend his time volunteering at the library and the senior center. His passion to serve others, even at the age of almost 80, motivates and encourages both me and many other people in my community to give to all the people around us. Sadru teaches the youth in my community to expand their knowledge outside of school, to go to college, and to volunteer throughout their professional lives. Once, he met Mother Theresa who, at a very old age, came to Kenya to attend an event in which his Lions Club distributed rice to the poor. He says that meeting her inspired him, and now he works hard to inspire others.

Lifelong Learning

Dori Gillam

Dori Gillam, 68

Dori is energetic, aging her way and nothing short of inspiring. She leads by example by living her life by her words and demonstrating what it means to age positively. Whether it’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or participating in the Womxn’s March with her friends, both young and old, Dori lives life to the fullest. She spends a good deal of her time speaking about aging and hosting presentations designed to shift how we thinking about aging and our older neighbors. Through use of humor and personal stories, Dori teaches that your older years don’t have to be molded by preconceived ideas about aging; those years get to be molded by us with the support of community. She encourages people to advocate for themselves because she’s seen firsthand the dignity that can be erased as you age. Through Wisdom Cafés she ignites conversations about aging, even delving into topics that we usually don’t discuss when it comes to older adults.