Inspire Positive Aging Awards Luncheon

Janet Preston, 71 Advocacy & Activism co-recipient with Claudia Webb, 2017 IPAA Judge
Janet Preston, 71 Advocacy & Activism co-recipient with Claudia Webb, 2017 IPAA Judge

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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 49 remarkable nominees and seven exceptional award recipients, at an event attended by over 320 individuals from diverse communities across King County!

This Year’s Award Recipients

A huge congratulations to all seven of our award recipients! This year was extraordinary, as two Advocacy + Activism nominees were awarded!

Advocacy + Activism

Diana 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

Check out this year’s photos & video!

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

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.

Want to nominate an outstanding individual for the IPAA?

Each year, we recognize recipients in the following categories:

  • Advocacy + Activism
  • Community Service
  • Health + Wellness
  • Intergenerational Impact
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Defining Inspiration

Nominees are comprised of individuals whose lives exemplify positive aging: community involvement, relationships, healthy living, endurance, creativity, and balance—all traits we ourselves hope to exhibit as we age.

Past Recipients and Nominees

Since 2006, more than 300 people have been nominated. We have recognized a total of 32 recipients, who were selected by a panel of board members, staff and community members.