2023 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Thanks for celebrating positive aging with us! Check out our video recap of the 18th Annual Positive Aging Awards on our YouTube Channel. 

The IPAA Luncheon celebrates and honors older adults across King County that exemplify positive aging. In 2023, Sound Generations recognized recipients in the following categories: Advocacy + Activism, Community Service, Health + Wellness, Intergenerational Impact, Lifelong Learning, and Defining Inspiration. To learn about all of the amazing nominees, check out our program booklet.

2023 IPAA Winners

Congratulations to the 18th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Award Winners!

Helen Sawyer

Advocacy & Activism

Miss Helen wholeheartedly believes in the importance of kinship care and support. Miss Helen learned early on how critical the need for support was to the success of raising family and she opened her heart accordingly. She has advocated in front of senators and representatives in Olympia, WA and Washington, D.C. on behalf of kinship caregivers. Her personal experience and connection to the community gave her tireless dedication to making life better for caregivers and the children they raised. She offered her determination and expertise to all willing to listen, learn and provide support for this vital work. Miss Helen is a kinship caregiver herself, caring for her own family members when they need it most. Miss Helen facilitated a kinship support group for three organizations and founded the Second Chance Kinship Support Group. She has helped found the Washington State Kinship Oversight Committee and the Advisory Council of the King County Kinship Committee. Miss Helen has done so much to shine a light on kinship caregivers and continues to be a beacon of hope and support.

Tammy Smith

Community Service

Tammy has many talents and is always eager to share them. She has been a dedicated volunteer at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center since 2003. Tammy was initially the front-desk receptionist, and later on she began volunteering in the kitchen. Tammy has since been part of the Community Dining program. She pays special attention to personal details which has earned her the reputation of being a ‘ray of sunshine’ to all. She helps prepare and serve food to the older adults and knows all the food allergies and preferences of the individuals she serves. Her positive, happy spirit resonates throughout the center on the days she is present. Through her personal activities in the community, she visits several seniors every week in their homes. She brings them meals, gifts, and always gives them her time to chat, laugh and share hugs. Participants and staff deeply love her alike at Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center. When we speak of our staff, she is always included as a critical part of our success story.

Bienvenida “Bene” Credo

Defining Inspiration

Bienvenida (Bene) has been an AmeriCorps Seniors Senior Companion volunteer with Volunteers of America and then Homage for 15 years. She reliably serves and supports her elder clients, some based at IDIC Filipino Senior and Family Services. She offers them social support through weekly visits and phone calls, helping them participate in programs and enjoy lunches, along with visiting or calling a newer client who now lives in assisted living. As Bene continues to generously give her time through the program, she recalls that it has not always been easy. Many of her original clients have passed away and she has cared for her beloved family members in their times of need. Her desire to serve and stay connected to others is helping her through these difficult transitions. Bene is a wonderful role model for how to help others regardless of age. She is eager to help her clients stay connected, enjoy bingo, attend the foodbank or remain socially connected to others. She doesn’t let her age stop her from helping and supporting others to live their best lives.

Jack MacKinnon

Health & Wellness

Jack has led a full and interesting life! He moved across the country by himself from the East Coast to Seattle after retiring and created a whole new, active life. His hobbies include softball, gardening, drawing and painting. He had two large plots at his community gardening space, and created a program to help supply the local food bank called the J. Mac Charity Garden. One plot is set aside for the food bank, and all those with community gardens commit to a certain amount of time helping in the food bank plot. They donate between 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of fresh food each year to Hopelink. As noted above, the plot has been named after Jack, and will continue to contribute many pounds of fresh food for those with low incomes in our community for years to come! Through his daily actions, he has shown people around him that it is never too late to engage in physical activity, to find a new love or to support your community.

Mike Standard

Intergenerational Impact

Mike is a caregiver, informally and formally, in his community. Within the community of older adults that he lives in, residents turn to him for support with daily tasks. Caregiving is a very difficult job for anyone, but Mike offers a helping hand willingly and enthusiastically. Additionally, Mike has embraced digital change and is excited to engage with new ways of doing things. In an industry where it’s typically the younger taking care of the older, Mike is a mold-breaker as he’s actually taking care of clients who are younger. What an inspiration! Mike also works with students at the Eastside Academy. The students say “Mike Standard is anything BUT standard… he’s Supreme!” They love engaging with Mike and hearing what he has to say. Mike leans in to listen to everyone he meets, especially the youth. Mike inspires those around him to be involved in the lives of others. The students he works with are watching and observing. They see the positive and lasting impact of Mike’s actions.

Patty Zeitlin (In Memoriam)

Lifelong Learning

Patty was a prolific songwriter, singer, storyteller and poet and she delighted all ages with her cleverly composed caring songs about a variety of topics from creatures to social causes. She performed with genuine feeling and movement, captivating the audience and taking us with her to magical places. Her love of sharing her sweet and meaningful messages through song and story was evident and infectious. Patty’s enthusiasm and positive vision for what she dreamed of creating never ceased. Despite her physical setbacks, her spirit was not daunted, and her vision was fixed on the things she still wanted to achieve. She was a long time dedicated practitioner and trainer of nonviolent communication (NVC) and the teachings were deeply integrated into her being. Her multifaceted talents were vast, from the calming influences of her NVC training to possibly being the oldest rap singer! Patty was an ageless troubadour for the times and a treasure, and she gifted others with her many talents and positive spirit. Her friends would like to shine the light on her in appreciation, gratitude and love. Patty passed away on March 17, 2023, St. Patrick’s Day. Her community now refers to the day as “St. Patty’s Day” in honor of their beloved friend.

2022 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Thanks for celebrating positive aging with us! Check out our video recap of the 17th Annual Positive Aging Awards on our YouTube Channel. 

The IPAA Luncheon celebrates and honors older adults across King County that exemplify positive aging. In 2022, Sound Generations recognized recipients in the following categories: Advocacy + Activism, Community Service, Health + Wellness, Intergenerational Impact, Lifelong Learning, and Defining Inspiration. To learn about all of the amazing nominees, check out our program booklet.

Congratulations to Our 2022 IPAA Recipients!

Celia Austria

Advocacy & Activism

Celia Austria has worked all her life to inspire others by bringing equality to her Filipino community. Celia’s hard-working and kindhearted nature allows for her to touch the lives of so many within her assisted living community, Park Place. As the president of the Park Place Resident Resource Group, Celia hosts monthly Resident Resource Group meetings to advocate for the need for increased mental health services and offers free counseling sessions to her peers. As a passionate advocate, Celia also lobbies to the state government to garner more funding for assisted living communities. She seeks to gain insight and opinions from those within her community, taking these concerns to executive management to inspire change.  

Turnesh Gura

Community Service

 Ms. Turnesh Gura has dedicated herself to ongoing volunteer service at 82 years old. She has made a measurable impact volunteering as a chef for the East African Senior Center program for 10 years. Her dedication stretches so far, that she travels on 2 buses to get to the center. Ms. Turnesh generously gives her time and talents to ensure that other East African adults receive culturally appropriate meals. She engages with others by inviting her peers to volunteer in the kitchen, exercise, and socialize. This has allowed Ms. Turnesh to maintain close personal relationships with family, friends, and her community members.  Her continuous contribution has taught those she encounters to think differently about aging, and that it is possible to be active, strong, and serve your community at any age.  

Glenda West

Community Service

Glenda West is an inspiration to all, pursuing many creative talents and doing them all successfully with heart and passion. Glenda is a person that demonstrates by the way she lives her life what is possible for everyone to achieve as they walk the aging path. Glenda sends an important message that living a fulfilling life through family, the arts, volunteering, supporting causes you believe in, and being who you are leads to a life that is successful and fulfilling. As an active community member, Glenda is involved in many groups including Ballard NW Senior Center, Cancer Lifeline, GenPride, Seattle Reparatory Theatre Public works project, and Aging Ballard Life Exchange. At Ballard NW Senior Center, she leads monthly conversation groups and volunteers to drive the center van on fun member outings.  

Jerald Forster

Defining Inspiration

Jerald Forster is passionate about helping others articulate their strengths and view themselves in a positive light, helping build confidence and a feeling of well-being in the community. Despite weathering several bouts of cancer, he manages to keep positive and focus on the future. At Shoreline UU Church, he helped develop and facilitate a group called Appreciating Elderhood, hosting 8-20 regular attendees ranging from ages 60-98. Keeping busy after retiring from teaching at UW in 2000, Jerald recently co-authored a book with his stepdaughter titled Articulating Your Strengths: A Mindful Practice for Developing Your Positive Identity. To complete a project like this at his age is truly remarkable!  

Margaret Boddie

Health & Wellness

Dr. Margaret Boddie’s commitment to healthy aging and to supporting older adults, especially African American older adults, is inspiring. She brings endless empathy to those she serves and works hard to help others understand the barriers they face and the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those barriers. When the pandemic hit, she worked tirelessly to engage both older adults and staff, not willing to put people on hold. In longstanding partnership with UW Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC), Dr. Boddie helped to develop and spread the Program to Encourage Activate, Rewarding Lives (PEARLS). Despite initial skepticism due to ongoing issues of racism, historical trauma, and mental health stigma, she brought compassion and grit to the program, allowing PEARLS to be accessible to older Black adults living with complex health issues and poor access to care. This work includes hiring Black professionals as PEARLS care managers to build trust and rapport, and training staff to talk about depression in ways that are both culturally fitting and age appropriate.  

Harry Williams

Intergenerational Impact

Harry Williams is a true example of selfless service and a great leader in his community of Kent. Every Monday, Harry volunteers at the Kent Food Bank to help pack food. Additionally, Harry is a member of the Rotary Club of Kent, supporting the community through the pandemic. Harry is involved in the local Kent School District’s Music4Life program invested in supporting students’ musical success through the donation of musical instruments. “He has truly been inspirational. I see him volunteer weekly and it makes me think about what I can do. He makes a difference in many lives and I hope to age like him”, says Satwinder Kaur, fellow Rotary Club of Kent member.  

Heather Stark

Lifelong Learning

Heather Stark demonstrates the epitome of lifelong learning, embracing education for the purpose of making significant contributions to society. Despite facing significant health concerns and surviving cancer, Heather continues on at full speed. In her seventh decade of life, she just recently completed her Ph.D. in Psychology, a pursuit that spanned an entire decade. In addition, Heather has plans to work on two additional Master’s degrees.  She is an advocate for social justice, raising awareness around domestic violence and women’s rights. Heather’s constant professionalism and ability to treat all she encounters with kindness and respect has provided a stunning example of her wisdom and grace.

2021 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Thanks for celebrating positive aging with us! In case you missed it, the full broadcast for the 16th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Awards is available on our YouTube Channel.

The IPAA Luncheon celebrates and honors older adults across King County that exemplify positive aging. In 2021, Sound Generations recognized recipients in the following six categories: Advocacy + Activism, Community Service, Health + Wellness, Intergenerational Impact, Lifelong Learning, and Defining Inspiration. To learn about all of the amazing nominees, check out our program booklet.

2021 IPAA Winners

Congratulations to the 16th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Award Winners!

Cynthia Grayson

Advocacy & Activism

Cynthia has been a powerful force for equity and human dignity for many years, serving as a child welfare worker and as a mental health therapist, then establishing businesses to support families and keep children from out of home placements. She is a fierce fighter for equalizing services for all ethnic communities, in particular for African American and Native American families, because she understands that these groups (and others) are often disproportionately affected by family separation, economic disparity, legal injustice, and fear of involvement in community. In fact, she was a critical change agent in organizing racial disproportionality efforts in King County.

Pushpakant Patel

Community Service

Pushpakant (Push) is always willing to help anyone in need regardless of age, and has been helping people for over 40 years now. He noticed early on when he moved to Seattle that there were seniors that could not drive, so he decided to help and has been giving rides to those seniors for any medical reason to either clinics or hospitals. For Pushpakant, age is just a number. Even at 82, he is very active and always helping people. This just goes to show that one does not have to slow down their helping or volunteering just because they are aging!

Ray Puddicombe

Defining Inspiration

Born 96 years ago in Tacoma, Washington, Ray was a WW2 Veteran, avid gardener, and incredible storyteller. He was warm and personable, always engaging audiences with his life’s stories and infectious laughter. Ray’s family and friends have learned a great deal about friendship, generosity, gardening and appreciating life, taking each day as it comes and finding joy in all that it has to offer. Sadly, Ray passed away before he could accept his award, but his message will live on through all those who have had the opportunity to cross paths with him.

Ampy Seto

Health & Wellness

Ampy, known as the Queen of Social Dancing, strives to make sure everyone feels warm and welcome. She is a connector between generations and cultures, and serves with love and enthusiasm. Although Ampy experienced two strokes, she was constantly seeking new ways to volunteer and give back to her community. According to her husband, when she heard her doctor’s gloomy diagnosis about being bound to a wheelchair, she said “Just watch me!” and pulled herself out of her wheelchair. She has been on her feet ever since, and has continued to play an active role in her community.

Mary Floyd

Intergenerational Impact

Mary has been volunteering as a Foster Grandparent Mentor at Homage for a number of years and the teachers and students rave about their interactions with her. They are eager to have her back every day in their classrooms and as one of the principals said “Mary, you ARE one of our valued staff members.” In addition to volunteering anywhere from 10-15 hours a week with kids in schools as a mentor, Mary is often keeping her eye open to folks in her apartment complex who might be open to volunteering. To quote Mary, “I keep telling them – those kids need you and you could really be helping them out. Come join me!” Mary shows that older adults can make a significant contribution even (and especially) in their later years. Mary’s good humor, positive attitude and zest for life are a great example for the children she serves.

Rebecca Crichton

Lifelong Learning

Rebecca’s work and outside interests almost all circle around healthy aging, aging with wisdom, defeating ageism, and how to handle the challenges of aging with resilience. The impact she has made on countless lives is exceptional! he immerses herself in learning, and her schedule looks straightforward at first glance. For example, she might be attending a presentation on a topic like brain health, age discrimination, or the impact of race on aging, or giving one of her excellent presentations, such as “Happiness is an Inside Job,” or writing an article for a local newsletter or magazine. But one thing that is different about Rebecca compared with others is, she shares everything she learns. On daily walks, she freely exchanges what she has recently read, learned, or heard. She incorporates her new learnings into her next project. She’s truly a lifelong learner and teacher. And that’s always inspirational.

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.

2019 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

2019 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Inspire Positive Aging Awards Logo

On June 26, 2019, Sound Generations hosted our 14th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Awards (IPAA) Luncheon at the Bellevue Hilton. The IPAA Luncheon celebrated and honored the nominees and award recipients, at an event attended by over 320 individuals from diverse communities across King County.

2019 IPAA Recipients

A huge congratulations to all seven of our 2019 award recipients!

Advocacy + Activism

This year was extraordinary, as two Advocacy + Activism nominees were awarded!

Dianne Thompson

Dianne Thompson, 79, is a change agent! In 2018, her advocacy helped ensure that adults in Washington State who are covered by Medicaid can receive hearing aids. This year she was instrumental in raising awareness and garnering support for a legislative bill to ensure that audiology patients are informed about the benefits of hearing technologies such as tele-coils and bluetooth. Her methodical, persistent, diligent and strategic advocacy as resulted in raising awareness about Medicare Observation Status which is a little known coverage gap that can cost older adults thousands of dollars in unexpected hospital bills. As a role model for advocacy, Diana patiently mentors her peers and advocates of all ages, providing them with the information and strategies to help them be successful. She is well known and highly regarded by her state and federal legislators, city and county policy makers, and statewide advocacy organizations including those for aging, hearing and healthcare issues.

Janet Jones-Preston

Janet Jones-Preston, 71, is a grandmother who has raised her children and fostered others. Although retired, she is (in the words of Times Pacific NW magazine writer, Susan Kelleher) a SUPER volunteer. Janet, along with her son who immigrated to Ghana for graduate studies, built a home ostensibly for herself. However, upon encountering a homeless family of eight she allows them to live in the home rent free. Upon learning that education is not a basic right as it is in the U.S. of A., she mortgaged her home and provided funds for her son to start a school that is flourishing and now serves 260 students. She visits the Washington prisons twice month, taking along fellow educators, student teachers, district superintendents and school staff on all levels. To the Ghanaian students she represents hope and to the prisoners, empowerment and encouragement.

Community Service

Sidney Rouse

Sidney Rouse, 86, has arrived at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center at 6:30 A.M. to assist in the kitchen for the past 8 years, 5 days a week. Sid has stood by his kitchen comrades, dishing up hugs and happiness along with the food. Despite suffering from an eye disorder, he appeared each morning for duty, sporting a patch on one eye.  When encouraged to go home, he takes the moment to teach his peers: “When you slow down, your body and mind slow down. At home, I would just feel sorry for myself, but here, I have a job to do and a cook to annoy.” What is most inspiring is his humility in performing his tasks. It’s stirring to see an accomplished Boeing Test Engineer and WWII decorated veteran, find such satisfaction in performing the most basic tasks for a non-profit. He takes as much pride and professionalism in his kitchen duties as he did in the aerospace industry.

Defining Inspiration

Marilyn Valentine

Marilyn Valentine, 84, is a unique, creative, soulful and engaging person. All of her creative parts are integrated into everything she does. She models bravery, showing up as her whole self, which creates the space for others to do so as well. She was the first person at the Lake City Seniors program to openly share her partnership with a woman. Marilyn connected to Lake City Seniors through her Enhance Fitness classes. I asked her if she would co-facilitate an LGBT+ support group. After thinking about it, she agreed to help start a group, but she wanted it to be open to anyone and it would be called “Connections.” For two years, Marilyn co-led a highly successful and diverse peer support group. She was the heart and soul of this group, welcoming new members and fostering deep and meaningful friendships and connections that continue to reverberate throughout the center and our community. I want to be Marilyn when I grow up! I want to be her right now.

Health & Wellness

Asefa Tesema

Asefa Tesema, 71, a former prisoner of war, exudes peace and calm that is rooted in his commitment to his faith and his mind/body wellness. He practices prayer, meditation, yoga, and exercises daily. Five years ago, after eye surgery left him blind, Asefa’s daughter sponsored him to come to the U.S. to try to get better treatment and regain his vision. Upon his arrival, he started attending the Ethiopian Community Center in Seattle. A few volunteers led exercise programs there for a little over a month but could not keep going. Asefa started leading the exercise. He began leading the group in a gentle yoga and aerobic exercise program two times a week to improve physical and mental health. After four and 1/2 years he eventually found and trained new volunteers that are carrying on the program. When asked about aging, he said, “Aging is not a disease, it is a blessing and a gift.

Intergenerational Impact

Marletta Iwasyk

Marletta Iwasyk, 80, is a phenomenal kindergarten teacher. She, recently turned 80 years old, and has taught for over 50 years for Seattle Public Schools. Over the years, she has taught over 1275 students and continues to teach and inspire generations. Marletta’s presence in the classroom positively influences students, teachers/staff, and parents about getting older. To the kindergarteners in her class her presence makes them “blind” to aging and to not feel like you can only do things at a certain age. To the teachers/staff Marietta is a role model and inspiration. Her vast knowledge, boundless energy, wonderful personality, and caring nature inspire them daily. And it lets them know that age need not limit them. To the parents her presence shows them that age doesn’t have to limit you. Many of the parents were raised thinking you retire at 65 and Marletta challenges that mindset.

Lifelong Learning

Ann Root

Ann Root, 92, has been a participant and teacher at the West Seattle Senior Center for four+ years. She inquired at the Center about visiting people who are home bound. Ann realizes the importance of community and friendship. She has been matched with two elder friends as part of our West Side Friends Program. She visits each of them 1-2 times a month. Ann does not drive, so she walks 4+ miles each way to visit her home bound elder friends. She also walks the four mile round trip to the Senior Center several times a week. Have I mentioned she is 92?! Ann values learning and stretching herself in new ways. She teaches a weekly advanced and beginning German class at the Senior Center. Her skills as a teacher are exemplary. She also is involved with an Enhanced Fitness Class and belongs to our book group. When Ann walks in to the Senior Center, we are all inspired and moved by her perseverance. At 92 years of age, her commitment to exercise and good health is evident. She walks to the Center in all kinds of weather, and several of us “younger ones” are now inspired to do the same.

2019 IPAA Nominees

We honor the 49 remarkable nominees that were recognized by their fellow friends, family, and peers at our 2019 Inspire Positive Aging Awards.

Meet our 2019 Inspire Positive Aging Awards nominees.

Thank you for being a part of our 2019 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Check out our 2019 IPAA Photo Album

Our IPAA Luncheon celebration would not have been possible without the support of our gracious donors, volunteers, nominators, and attendees.

2019 IPAA Sponsors

We are also incredibly grateful for our Signature Sponsors, Microsoft and Premera Blue Cross; our IPAA Benefactor Sponsor, Azose Commerical Properties; and our Lead Sponsors, Swedish, Biella Foundation, and Aegis Living.

2019 IPAA Corporate Tables & Table Captains

Thank you also to our Corporate Tables & Table Captains: Aetna, Airline Catering Co. Inc., Alzheimer’s Association, Central Area Senior Center, Community Health Plan of Washington, City of Seattle, Iora Primary Care, Kaiser Permanente, Quail Park Communities, Senior Center of West Seattle, Sprague Israel Giles, The Hearing Loss Association of America Washington State Association, Brittany Blue, La Tasha Byers, Janet Ceballos, Heidi Cosentino, Darryl Price, Carlos Rojas, Katrina Russell, Jim Wigfall, and our In-Kind Corporate Sponsor, Alaska Airlines.

And new this year, we would like to thank our vendor booths who made the first Touch of Inspiration Outreach Fair a success.

2018 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

On June 20, 2018, Sound Generations celebrated our 13th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Awards by recognizing 49 inspirational older adults from diverse communities throughout King County. This event brought together nearly 300 guests thanks to the generosity of our sponsors: Regence, Premera Blue Cross, Azose Commercial Properties, Swedish, Aegis Living, and the Biella Foundation.

Six Award Recipients were acknowledged for their exceptional contributions:

Advocacy + activism

Hilke Faber, 74, is a role model for all ages and a tireless advocate for older adults. As a retired registered nurse who served as Washington’s first nursing home ombudsman, she led statewide and national legislation reforms for nursing home regulations. Her advocacy efforts led to the establishment of Bill of Rights for nursing home residents in Washington, and she created resident councils in King County’s senior living communities to provide a channel of communication between residents and home administrators. Her passion for advocacy and service has helped those around her see nursing home residents in a new light – as autonomous, dignified people capable of advocating for themselves regardless of their age and health.

Community service

Jemanesh Demisse, 72, is dedicated to helping the underserved elders in King County’s East African community. She has been working with the East African Senior Meals Program at the Yesler Community Center for over eight years, preparing nutritious and culturally relevant meals for over 50 elders each Thursday and Saturday. She has demonstrated leadership by actively recruiting volunteers for the meals program and Rainer Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, and she is not afraid to go out of her way to assist a community member. She is the first to first to fundraise when someone is in need, the first to visit a community member in the hospital, and cheers on the younger generation at graduation ceremonies. Despite her recent health challenges her dedication to her community is unwavering. Her nominator said, “Jemanesh has a heart of gold… [She] taught me that one can be humble and give without the expectation of getting anything in return.”

Defining inspiration

Natalia Mendez, 76, inspires people who know her with her positivity and selflessness. Natalia emigrated from Pueblo, Mexico to Yakima when she was 34, where she raised four children on her own and was known in the community for bringing meals to less fortunate families. She continues to embody this spirit of kindness today, spending hours each week preparing delicious Mexican food to share with SeaMar’s Lake City Latino Senior Group. Even though she struggles with chronic pain after a car accident, she remains active physically and is always willing to try new activities like yoga and dancing. At an event celebrating the independence days of Latin American countries last year, Natalia sang a song from Mexico in front of the lunch crowd. Her nominator described her voice as “soulful, strong, and inspiring” – just like Natalia herself.

Health & wellness

Merle Fister, 97, exemplifies healthy aging through his determination to stay physically and mentally fit. He begins each day with calisthenics and a half mile walk, before joining other residents for a daily group exercise class. Recognizing that loneliness and isolation negatively impact people’s health, Merle always makes sure to greet new members of his retirement community to make them feel welcome and involved. He helps others with computer and cell phone problems and follows news reports to stay current on world events. Those who know Merle describe him as loving and optimistic, and they appreciate him for demonstrating the power of positive thinking, the importance of an active lifestyle, and the healing power of laughter and a joke, even if it’s a bad one.

Intergenerational impact

Dianne Hansen, 71, was honored for her ‘Intergenerational Impact’. Dianne is admired for her work as a volunteer tutor and piano teacher in her community. She generously devotes her time to tutoring young children at the Shoreline Public Library, and through the SWEL Timebank discovered her passion for teaching piano lessons. This inspired Dianne to offer free piano lessons to children whose families couldn’t afford private lessons. Dianne also purchased keyboards and music books that she’d loan to students so they could practice at home. She now devotes time to her 12 young piano students but still finds time to dedicate to other causes, including piano lessons for retiree and working mother students, general tutoring, teaching ESL classes, and sewing classes. Her patience, compassion and enthusiasm is infectious, and she is an inspiration to all who know her.

Lifelong learning

Ray Bradley, 65, an active member of Central Area Senior Center’s Food, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Workshop Series, brings encouragement and joy to everyone he meets. An intelligent and curious man, Ray loves learning and always participates and assists in any way he can. He asks questions for every presenter and topic, and he is always enthusiastic when he is asked to help with a demonstration in class. Ray keeps a positive attitude during classes, and his humor good cheer helps other participants to do the same. Outside the classes, Ray also teaches a computer classes to CASC members every Wednesday. His nominator said, “One need not ask for [Ray’s] help – if he sees a need, he is on it.  If he determines a better way exists to solve or resolve a concern, he offers his ideas immediately.”

If you didn’t get a chance to nominate someone you know, you’ll have another opportunity to submit a nomination next year. We hope to see you at the 2019 IPAA celebration!

2017 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

On April 20, 2017, Sound Generations celebrated our 12th Annual Inspire Positive Aging Awards by recognizing 56 inspirational older adults from diverse communities throughout King County. Presented in partnership with Premera Blue Cross, this event brought together nearly 350 guests and raised more than $90,000 – exceeding our fundraising goal by 30%!


Seven Award Recipients were acknowledged for their exceptional contributions:

Community Service

Barbara Peete, 75, received this year’s ‘Community Service’ award. Among other contributions, she manages the wildly popular Bid Whist program at Central Area Senior Center. Every week, more than seventy people come from all over King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to play the card game and enjoy the potluck and music. In addition to overseeing the entire program, she has galvanized participants to start recycling and composting. She is respected by all, and when the center needs someone to represent them, members always select her to be their spokesperson. Her nominator said, “She shares what she has, is fair and objective, educated and smart, but most of all, she’s reliable. You can count on her to do what she says she’ll do.”

Advocacy + Activism

Feanette Black Bear, 64, was honored with the ‘Advocacy + Activism’ award. Feanette inspires others through her strengh, resilience, and advocacy on behalf of indigenous communities. A Lakota elder, she has been involved with the movement to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the water protectors in North Dakota, among other causes.  She is fluent in the Lakota language and is often honored to share a prayer at gatherings, such as the Indigenous Women’s candlelight vigil in downtown Seattle to honor missing and murdered indigenous women. Her offer of a prayer was a huge strength at the event and her beautiful words were healing and empowering. Her wisdom is a gift to younger generations, and her love for her community and her bravery are unfailing.

Health + Wellness

Michael Neguse, 61, received the ‘Health + Wellness’ award. Michael is devoted to helping those who are undeserved and has strong ties to King County’s East African and refugee communities. Through his work with East African Senior Meal Program (EASMP), he helps provide more than fifty seniors with free and culturally relevant meals, current events information, and bus tokens. He also speaks four languages, and uses his language skills to educate people of all ages about emergency preparedness.  His contributions are appreciated by many organizations he’s involved with, including ReWa, Seattle Tilth, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Neighborhood Group, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands.

Intergenerational Impact

Pam Berry, 74, received the ‘Intergenerational Impact’ award. Pam has been working in the community for over 30 years, bringing music training to children in the Southeast Seattle Community Youth Orchestra. She and her husband have contributed their own funds to the orchestra and to helping children in other areas of their lives. Her enthusiasm for the children is contagious, and she often inspires others to help out – a skill that her nominator describes as “uncanny” – “She asks others to do things and before they know it they’re cooking and working with her. I have found myself in tears laughing about how she made me do it.” Through her selfless determination, Pam shows that you can be a great example to your community and to young people at any age.

Lifelong Learning

Kelsi Watson, 67, was honored for ‘Lifelong Learning’. Though she is legally blind, Kelsi does not let this stop her from joining in many activities at Central Area Senior Center such as the Sliders – a dance group that meets for exercise and performs out in the community. Others are inspired by her rhythm and ability to perform by listening to the music and the instructors. She also attends monthly membership meetings and regularly offers suggestions to improve the center. If there is a resource lacking (such as special BINGO cards), she’ll go out and purchase them, always declining offers to be reimbursed. Through her thoughtfulness, sense of humor and good attitude, she demonstrates that she does not suffer from a disability but rather is fully capable.

Outstanding Team

Mr. and Mrs. Huang have volunteered as choir instructors for the Cultural Exchange Program at the North Bellevue Community Center for 17 years. In addition to teaching the choir songs from around the world and publishing a book of songs, the Huangs lead the group to perform at an annual Chinese New Year Celebration and at the Redmond Senior Center. They always tell their peers there is no age limit for music and encourage many isolated Chinese seniors to join the class and enhance their social networks. In addition, they encourage young musicians to ensemble with them and believe music can break down the generation gap by creating partnership, harmony, and happiness.

Defining Inspiration

Fred Geraldsen, 91, was recognized for ‘Defining Inspiration.’ Fred is admired for his boundless energy and compassion. After serving in the Army Air Corp during WWII, he studied mechanical engindeering and began a long career at Boeing. Currently, he is a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels – despite being older than all but one recipient. At the SeaTac Senior Program, he helps set up lunch, square dances, participates in support groups, flies remote control vehicles and leads the Nintendo Wii bowling and golf group. In 2007, he was appointed by the Mayor of SeaTac to chair the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee where he advocates on behalf of seniors. His nominator describes him as “a wonderful example of living life to the fullest, no matter what age you are.”

If you didn’t get a chance to nominate someone you know, you’ll have another opportunity to submit a nomination next year. We hope to see you at the 2018 IPAA celebration!