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!

2016 Inspire Positive Aging Awards

2016 IPAA Recipients

Inspire Positive Aging Awards 2016

Community Service

Richard (‘Dick”) Body

Richard BodyDick’s volunteer experience has included three Sound Generations programs, Hyde Shuttle, Volunteer Transportation and Meals on Wheels, South King Fire and Rescue, and Des Moines/Normandy Park Senior Activity Center.

With the South King Fire and Rescue Department, Dick is the designated volunteer driver for their 1941 Chevrolet fire truck. Many a summer weekend, Dick and his faithful stuffed Dalmatian, Hydrant, attend community festivals, farmers markets, parades and senior centers. Every July, Dick hosts a drawing for one lucky senior from our senior center to win a ride in the antique fire truck for our community’s annual Waterland Parade. Dick also delivers interdepartmental mail for all eight fire stations on a weekly basis.

Dick wears MANY hats at the Des Moines/Normandy Park Senior Activity Center. He is a volunteer driver for day trips, helping area seniors enjoy all the fun places to visit and explore in the Pacific Northwest. He is the official “carpenter,” making a beautiful table rack for the center, repairing TV trays, donating wood sailboat mobiles and ornate memory boxes to the annual auction. Every Thursday since 2003, Dick has served his Meals on Wheels route, packing and delivering meals.

As his nominator said: “He doesn’t just do his job, he goes the extra mile to bring a smile, wipe a tear, make a child laugh, a dog wag its tail, a homebound senior feel special and loved.”

Health & Wellness

Geraldine Allsopp

Gerri AllsoppGerri is an inspiration to many, many people — in her community, in her church, at the YMCA where she exercises, in the music community, and with generations of young people. Everyone who knows her just says: “WOW!” She is everything we all wish to be: healthy, active, involved, capable, and flexible. She has a cheerful spirit and gentle soul, takes on new adventures, and always embraces life.

Her first love is music. In the past she was the first choir director at, Normandy Park UCC. She taught music at North Hill Elementary school and continues to give piano and voice lessons. She loves to cook, entertain, host functions, host visiting musicians, work in her beautiful gardens, and take yoga classes every week. At Normandy Park Congregational UCC, she is a member of the choir (acting as director occasionally), serves on committees, helps in Vacation Bible School, and plays the piano at the monthly community meals.

Her nominator says, “I am in her yoga classes and love doing yoga with Gerri. Just watching her perform the asanas encourages me to keep going towards the goal of being a flexible, graceful, strong 93 year old! Her instructors and classmates are also in awe. In other words, Gerri has boundless energy and gives all of us hope — that we, too, can age gracefully with a full meaningful life.”

Intergenerational Impact

Dr. Dominick Minotti (79)

Dr. Dominic MinottiDr. Minotti is a retired physician and Army Colonel who is an inspiration to all because of his energy, drive and dedication to serving people in four different generations. He has served for many years as a volunteer board member for Gay City Health Project on Capitol Hill and is passionate about youth outreach.

In addition, he volunteered for many years for Seattle Central College’s Compass program, and continues to tutor several special needs youth and young adults with their academic work. He mentors them in setting higher expectations of themselves and developing greater skills in self-sufficiency in their journeys to independence.

Nick has also helped improve the health of low income young and older adults with serious mental illness by serving as Chair of Navos’ Capital Campaign Major Gifts Committee. He provided the administrative support for the St. James Children’s Music Program for years and still volunteers for concerts and provides support to the music office at St. James Cathedral. Finally, he sings in St. James’ nationally acclaimed choir and serves as a board member for the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington.

His nominator said, “Nick seeks out ways to help individuals with special challenges: helping a younger person coming out of jail to establish a home and job; helping someone lost in the foster care system since early childhood to establish stability and a career in adulthood; accompanying friends to major medical consultations in order to explain what has transpired and assist them in making decisions about care; and serving on the advisory council to establish support for older adult LGBT folks.”

Advocacy & Activism

Fai Coffin (76)

A lifelong activist for peace, justice, and community understanding, Fai has demonstrated continuing efforts to promote inclusiveness and connection, especially for women, elders, working people, lesbians, and communities of color. Through her work at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, she has built bridges and encouraged supportive networking as well as building connections through activities that are just plain fun.

Fai is an ardent supporter of Gullah Days in Columbia City, the Life Enrichment Book Store, the Community Alliance for Social Justice, and the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, where she has given art classes in paper folding for many years. Her matchless gift to Elder Lesbians in SE Seattle has been ALISS (Aging Lesbians in SE Seattle). They meet monthly in the Senior Center and have movie nights or potlucks in between in various venues. Through ALISS, separate groups have flourished including “End of Life” Issues, “Helping Hands”, and “Political Empowerment”.

Her nominator said, “Fai is always FUN, but as an outgrowth of her continued inspiration, which is Fai just being Fai, we are discovering new ways of belonging, perhaps the essence of health and contentment.”

Lifelong Learning

Barbara “BJ” Johnson (95)

Barbara JohnsonBarbara is the most senior of the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center’s Hula group: the Kupunas. A Kupuna, a Hawaiian word, “is an honored elder who has acquired enough life experience to become a family and community leader”. Barbara joined the group when she was 87 and celebrated her 95th birthday this year. She practices every week and performs with the group at least two times a year. Her infectious smile and positive attitude is an inspiration for all 15 members, and mesmerizes audience members with her grace.

Despite two hip surgeries and surviving lung cancer (although she never smoked), Barb loves to dance. When she was in her 80s, her daughters gave her tap shoes and a tap platform. Little did they know that she would tap dance for hours at a time. She then joined the Kupuna Hula group at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center.

Her nominator said, “It is a joy to watch Barb dance. Her love of Hula and the delight she has in life shines through. She is such an inspiration to all of the Kupunas: we aspire to dance like her until we are 95+ years old and to enjoy every facet of life like Barb. She is truly the most beautiful and inspirational senior one could ever meet!”

2016 Nominees

Claire Anderson, Char Ashcraft, William Beck, Genevieve Benjamin, Norberto “Kuyabert” Caoili, Jean Carroll, Jim McClaine, Pat Cranston, Dagmar Cronn, April Eng, Rosita Farinas, Mollie Fitzsimons, Melinda and Barry Franklin, Zoe Freeman, Mary Fry, Carolyn Geyman, Patricia “Patti” Gibbs, Jeff Guite, Howard Hansen, Sylvia Haven, Dori Johanson, Isabel Jones, Pil Jung Kim, Ann King, Harriet Leonard, Russell Lundwall, Jerry Lloyd, Erlinda Lorenzo, Gloria “Jean” Matthews, Cheryl McDaniel, Pragmacio “Boyd” Quinanola, Barbara Reul, Juana Royster, Gloria Sandoz, Sharon Schaffner, Vernette Stowers, Ruth Vogel, Barbara “Barbie” Whorton, Elaine Williams.

2015 Inspire Positive Aging Award Winner

Eileen Broomell, 89

Eileen BroomellEileen is an educator, motivator, instructor, and a strong believer of positive thinking. Eileen has been a Red Cross volunteer instructor/trainer in CPR, first aid and water safety for several decades. She ran her own business as a canoe river guide for 27 years. Eileen was an instructor at Highline Community College, and also coached Highline’s basketball and volleyball teams. In her retirement she continues to teach health, wellness, and exercise classes at several senior centers. Today Eileen is regularly at SeaTac Senior Center 3 times a week for her Senior Working Out Class, and has formed a strong relationship with other participants. Eileen continues to embrace new adventures. She has undertaken road trips to Florida and Alaska, and plans to visit Montana and New Mexico this summer.