Celebrating Our Superstar Volunteers

celebrating our superstar volunteers

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and Sound Generations would like to give a super special shoutout to all the well-rounded and passionate volunteers that have dedicated countless hours in service — bringing smiles and warm greetings at senior centers, Community Dining kitchens, older adults driven to vital appointments or given freshly prepared and delivered meals. These are just a few ways our rock star volunteers have shown up to support our mission of furthering healthy aging in King County! Throughout 2021, Sound Generations saw over 1,000+ volunteers come together in challenging circumstances to uplift those around them through direct service.

Sound Generations volunteers are thoughtful individuals who are always excited to engage with the aging community through shared stories, building friendships and maintaining long-lasting connections along the way.

Take it from superstar volunteer, John Cluff, a receptionist and Board member at Senior Center of West Seattle, who shared this fascinating and insightful quote about what inspires him to volunteer:

“I’ve been thinking. If I really wanted to touch the past, I could have gone to the coast and touched a log on the beach. If I want to touch the present, I merely pet my dog. But what I really wanted to do, especially during the pandemic, is reach out and touch the future (make a difference) so I volunteered, and I am glad I did!”

John Cluff

Thank you for sharing, John, and we hope that your desire to reach out and touch the future inspires others! Check out John’s Senior Center of West Seattle Featured Volunteer Highlight to read more about this amazing individual.

You too can join the volunteer family! As part of our Volunteer Appreciation Month celebration, we will be launching Volunteer Xtravaganza – a virtual celebration of volunteerism through our soundgenerations.org/volunteer website! On this newly built page to celebrate our volunteers, you will find exciting new features such as volunteer shout-outs, featured volunteer opportunity of the month, as well as ways to stay in the loop across the organization.

For any questions about Volunteer Xtravaganza, please contact Dom at doma@soundgenerations.org.

Q&A: Meet Sound Generations’ Star Social Workers

March is Social Work Month

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize the individuals who dedicate their professional lives to advocating for others. Sound Generations is fortunate to have many compassionate, dedicated social workers on staff working to support older adults and those who care for them every single day. We are taking this opportunity to highlight the essential work that they do, as well as learn more about each of their unique journeys and passions that drive them in their roles with Sound Generations.

People choose to become social workers for lots of different reasons, sometimes very personal ones. Can you share your own motivation for choosing to pursue this career, and what you hope to accomplish in the future?

“People in difficult circumstances have been taking steps to care for themselves and others in their families, their neighborhoods, and their larger communities, regardless of the involvement of social workers. On an individual level, I want to be part of supporting those resilient efforts and getting barriers out of the way for people to live a fuller life. On a collective level, I want to be part of transforming the historic wrongs and ongoing social injustices that perpetuate scarcity conditions. There should be fewer obstacles for people to overcome to live by their means. This matters to me because it is about living a fuller life with everyone and sharing that as much as possible. I can’t imagine a life without people caring for each other, even if just sharing the recognition that things are not alright, but they could be. I don’t have to be a social worker to be part of that, but I chose the profession to be a means to do more with what I have been given.”

– Jms Stuivenga, LSWAIC / GRAT Clinician

Person with glasses and longer hair smiling in camera (JMS Stuivenga)

What is something you wish more people knew or understood about social work, or about being a social worker?

woman with short hair wearing orange turtleneck, smiling (Nikki Bagli)

“Social work has a particular focus on equity and inclusion. Social workers consider people in their environment and the interplay between our internal worlds and external systems of privilege and oppression.”

-Nikki Bagli, Caregiver Counselor & Clinical Consultant

How has your experience working at Sound Generations been different from other social work roles you have held previously?

“The biggest difference between this current social work position and others I have held, is that few situations are really a crisis.  I used to work in a hospital where most interactions were a result of a medical crisis.   Now, I work primarily with seniors who are mostly independent and functioning pretty well on their own in the community.   I find the slower pace at the center and in this community refreshing.  It allows me time to really develop relationships with people and see them on a repeated basis, and I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the work I am doing now.  Sound Generations celebrates Aging…and I like that a lot!”

– Kelly Fujiwara, MA, MSW, Social Worker/Resource Navigator, Sno-Valley Senior Center

Woman with glasses and long brown hair wearing sweater (Kelly Fujiwara)

What is something about your job that you look forward to every day?

“I look forward to assisting older adults to problem-solve and to address and hopefully resolve issues that are affecting their quality of life. I also appreciate the ongoing learning and the variety of challenges that I’m faced with every day.”

-Jill Bieler, Social Worker at Shoreline Lake Forest Park Senior Center

It’s no question that social workers experience a tremendous amount of emotional exhaustion just by the nature of the work that they do. What is something you do to take care of yourself outside of work? Where do you find joy?

Smiling woman with curly blue hair pushed to one side (Sabrina Jones)

“I have been a social worker for more than a decade, and one of my greatest challenges is finding the balance between caring for work and caring for myself. My passion of systems change is also big in my personal life. I spend a lot of time encouraging voter participation, engaging elected officials, following community development and challenges, and staying tuned into current events. In our current climate, this is incredibly trying. However, my passion for being a part of creating a healthier world prevents me from completely checking out. So, a lot of self-care is about finding a balance. I try to alternate reading fiction with nonfiction, policy books. I take walks through Seattle’s neighborhoods, finding joy in small things like creative yard art and gorgeous sunsets. I love taking mundane photos with my FujiFilm instax camera.”

-Sabrina Jones, Director of Assistance Services

If you could give any piece of advice to those considering pursuing their own social work career, what would it be?

Go for it! One of the beauties of a social work career is that there are so many ways of being a social worker: working with children or adults, in health care settings, home health and hospice, or as an administrator.”

-Toni Ameslav, MSW, Social Worker at Senior Center of West Seattle 

Woman with curly grey hair smiling in black sweater (Toni Ameslav)

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram, where we’ll be sharing more Social Worker highlights all month long!

Banana Cream Pie

Homemade Tasty Banana Cream Pie on a white wooden background, top view. Flat lay, overhead, from above.

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk (or sub 2%)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or scotch (optional, but recommend)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon salted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2-3 large ripe bananas, sliced

For the peanut butter cookie crust:

  • 20-25 nutter butters
  • ¼ cup melted butter

For the topping:

  • 16 ounces (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To garnish:

  • Dark chocolate for chocolate curls

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or melted butter. This creates such a gorgeous pie but you can also use a regular deep dish pie pan to make this pie too!
  2. Start by making the crust: Place cookies into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 1-2 minutes or until cookies are finely crushed. Add in melted butter and process again until well combined.
  3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pie pan and press into the bottom and side evenly. It should come up at least an inch to an inch and a half on the sides. Sometimes I find it helpful to use a small measuring cup to help set the crust firmly and get the crumbs up the side of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. FYI: The crust will need to be somewhat cool to the touch before you can add the filling.
  4. To make the filling: In a large saucepan, mix the yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined and thick. It may take some time to get it all combined but the mixture should be silky smooth once you’re done.
  5. Next, add milk to a small pot and bring to a slight simmer. Do not boil the milk. You just want it to start to slightly bubble and simmer along the edges. Remove from heat once simmering and immediately whisk in ⅓ cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, keep whisking as we don’t want the eggs to curdle! You’ll need to be quick. Slowly whisk in the rest of the hot milk and continue to whisk.
  6. After all the milk is whisked into the pan with the egg mixture, immediately place the pan over medium heat and continue to whisk, ensuring that you get the sides and edges of the pan. Once the mixture starts to get warm and slightly boils, it may thicken VERY quickly so you must pay attention closely. Once the mixture thickens to be custard-like or almost like a thick peanut butter (which shouldn’t take that long), you can immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, bourbon and butter; stirring until well combined.
  7. Next add banana slices all over the bottom of the pie crust so that they are touching. Pour the filling into the cooled cookie pie crust and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the filling and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until cold.
  8. Once pie and filling are cold and you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream topping: Add heavy whipped cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer!); beat on high until cream reaches stiff peaks. Taste and add additional sugar if necessary and mix once more.
  9. Evenly spread whipped cream over pie filling, then garnish with dark chocolate shavings or dust pie with a little cocoa powder. Serves 9-12, depending on how large you cut the slices. Pie will stay fresh for a few days if properly covered and stored in the fridge.

Original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

Recognizing the 2021 Inspire Positive Aging Award Winners

We would like to take this Black History Month to recognize previous winners of our Inspire Positive Aging Awards who represent and advocate for BIPOC individuals and families in their local communities.

Winner of the 2021 IPAA Advocacy & Activism Award was Cynthia Grayson. For years, Cynthia lived out her advocacy values as a child welfare worker and a mental health therapist. She has always fiercely fought for establishing equity in access to services for African American and Native American families and communities. A true example of a person who practices what they preach, Cynthia has worked tirelessly to network and engage with others to establish a strong and supportive system of care dedicated to the cause of human justice. Upon receiving her award at the 2021 IPAA virtual event, Cynthia goes on to recognize the value of funding and supporting kinship caregivers, older adults that might also be acting as parents or caregivers to their grandchildren.

Cynthia Grayson, 2021 IPAA winner in pink shirt with grandson in black shirt smiling together

“This was something that I was going to have to not only be a strong advocate for, but also maybe activism, just because I know sometimes….many people are not aware that some of our grandparents are parenting the second time around, and how challenging that may be. So having had that experience on a personal level, I feel really positive about being selected for this award.”

Receiving the award for Intergenerational Impact was Mary Floyd, who has worked for several years in education and in that time has also been volunteering as a foster grandparent with Homage. Her ability to pivot and adapt amidst the drastic changes in the school system brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to continue supporting children virtually, overcoming technological barriers along the way.

IPAA winner Mary Floyd smiling, wearing glasses and sitting in front of a picture frame

“It’s a booster for me, to continue reaching out to our future generations, our children, and encouraging them. Volunteering is a powerful tool that can be used on both fronts, virtual and in person.”

The 2022 Inspire Positive Aging awards will be held in person for the first time since 2019. We look forward to seeing more amazing nominees. Visit our IPAA hub to learn more.

Stewed Okra & Tomatoes with Chicken Sausage

image of okra sliced into 4 inch tubes

There is nothing like a good stew to warm up in this cold weather. In honor of Black history month, we encourage you to try this Stewed Okra and Tomatoes w/ Chicken Sausage. It is sure to become part of your regular cooking rotation with a total cook time of 35 minutes.

The African-American Culture has always had a unique relationship with food and drink—often connected by their shared experience of enslavement, immigration, systemic oppression, and scrappiness. Okra is one of the ingredients brought from Africa for slaves to cultivate in the Western hemisphere. There is much to learn about the richness of black cuisine, so take some time to learn more about the history of their cuisine and try other traditional recipes from the African-American culture.

Ingredients

  • 26 oz. Roasted Chicken Sausage
  • 1 cup Sweet Corn
  • 24 oz. Cut Okra
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 3 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 28 oz. Fire-Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • 8 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 8 oz. Lima Beans
  • 1 tbsp. Creole Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Basil Leaf Flakes
  • 1 tsp. Red Cayenne Pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the chicken sausage. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set to the side.
  2. Remove the kernels from the corn and set to the side (if using fresh ears of corn).
  3. Ensure the pan is set to medium heat. Add butter and minced garlic, frequently stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add okra to the pan and season with sea salt. Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes to help eliminate some excess slime.
  5. Add chicken sausage, corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, lima beans, and all seasonings to the pan. Cook covered for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve alone or with rice.

View the recipe and additional details on https://dudethatcookz.com/stewed-okra-with-roasted-chicken-sausage/ 

The Power of Human Connection

Image of two older adults in dark clothing smiling and hugging each other
Storytelling image of a multiethnic senior couple in love – Elderly married couple dating outdoors, love emotions and feelings

Sound Generations is about changing the narrative around aging. We use this phrase all the time. Through the work that we do and the programs we provide, we are always striving to paint a new series of images that portray a vibrant, balanced, and independent life. Independent, however, does not mean the same thing as alone.

It is no hyperbole that human connection can save lives. Time and time again we have recognized the devastating impact of isolation on the physical and mental wellbeing of older adults living alone throughout the ongoing pandemic. Limited access to transportation, food insecurity, and barriers to maintaining regular social interaction with friends and loved ones takes a heavy toll on many of the individuals we serve.

Our programs have been created to help fill the gaps in nutrition, wellness, transit, and other common areas of need, but fostering a strong community support network alongside all of that is how we can ensure that older adults are set up to thrive. And it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in someone’s day and show that you care about them. Something as simple as a text or phone call to a loved one or checking up on a neighbor to see how they’re doing and if they need anything, can help those around us feel a little safer and more supported.

If you would like to be that person in your community that others can count out, download this simple Neighbor Postcard to print, fill out, and drop off in the mailbox of your aging community members.

Kindness and care are more powerful than ever right now. We hope you will help us in sharing love and support for those in need.

Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup melted shortening, divided
  • 2 cups white or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • Butter, for serving, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Brush about 1 tablespoon of melted shortening in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put the skillet in the oven.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of melted shortening. 
  5. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until blended. Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven and set it on a metal rack. Pour the batter into the sizzling shortening in the hot skillet.
  6. Return the skillet to the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F, and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. 
  7. Cut the cornbread into wedges and serve hot with a pat of butter, if desired.