Inspire Positive Aging!

The title of the award that Senior Services bestows annually upon senior citizens says it all. The Inspire Positive Aging award recognizes individuals whose lives are marked by engagement, service, and a certain joie de vivre. These characteristics inspire those who know them and are why Senior Services recognizes one outstanding individual each spring.

Past recipients have ranged in age from as young as 70 up to 96 years of age. The common thread running throughout the tapestry of their lives is that they regard the number of years lived as just that—a number—not an all-defining or limiting characteristic. Age has enabled each person to have many experiences and to apply those experiences for the benefit of others. (See all the winners at the end of this article below.)

Idore Anschell won the award in 2006. Her nominator described her as an individual who exhibited tenacity in the face of adversity. She was also a lifelong learner and earned an M.F.A. in writing in her 70s.

In 2007, at age 93, Mary Perkins said, "Life begins at 90. It's never too late to start living and learning." She left us with some sage advice: "Be with people, help each other, try new things, laugh at yourself, be grateful, always have something to look forward to, make the most of every day, wear red, and dance!"

Dolly Castillo was 84 years of age when she won the award in 2008. Her nominator noted that she is "the very heart of the International Drop-In Center." She credited physical activity as the key to her longevity.

In 2009, Senior Services awarded an exceptional recipient, Nina Harding, who earned a law degree at 52 years of age. Nina utilized her law degree to promote social justice and gave her time to the Elder Law Clinic until her passing in 2010.

In 2010, Kristian Nielsen-Herrera impressed us with his entrepreneurial spirit.

Two Inspire Positive Aging award winners were named in 2011: Eileen Allen and Tom Kobayashi. The two nonagenarians—93 and 94, respectively—were both going strong.

Ms. Allen became an author at the age of 90 as well as a popular public speaker. She shared, "I am absolutely convinced that, if you put your mind into it, aging can be a time of great reward, of growth, and, perhaps the most important thing of all, getting to know yourself."

Tom Kobayashi, Ms. Allen's co-recipient, epitomized volunteerism and active engagement. That year marked his 75th year of volunteering for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. In addition, he maintained his independence, lived in his own home, and hosted frequent family gatherings.

Our most recent (2012) winner, Bill Sleeper, is a technology guru. At 97, he works to help other seniors discover the ways that technology can enrich their lives. Bill believes that technology offers seniors ways to engage with society.

Sleeper's understanding of technology is particularly impressive when you consider he was already 60 years old when Microsoft started.

The past recipients were truly inspiring. They personified 20th century French philosopher Henri L. Bergson:  "To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly."

The recipient of this year's Inspire Positive Aging award promises to be equally as inspiring as those who have already won. The winner will be revealed at the Senior Services breakfast on May 8, 2013 at the Museum of Flight. For ticket information, visit Join us and you will be inspired!

Author Brittany Blue is assistant director of resource development at Senior Services.

Idore Anschell – 2006 Mary Perkins – 2007

Dolly Castillo – 2008 Nina Harding – 2009

Kristian Nielsen-Herrera – 2010  Eileen Allen – 2011

Tom Kobayashi – 2011

 Bill Sleeper – 2012