Sound Generations Honors King County Elders at the 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!