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  2002 Press Releases  

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CONTACT: Jan Costello
Phone: 217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

September 16, 2002

Older Workers and
Their Employers Lauded

Awards Help Celebrate
National Employ the Older Worker Week

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber will host an awards luncheon Thursday, September 26, 2002, in honor of the state’s outstanding older workers and their employers. The noon luncheon, to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, is an annual event held in conjunction with National Employ the Older Worker Week, September 22-28, 2002.

“Older workers are conscientious, dependable and productive, not to mention a positive influence on the entire workplace,” said Schreiber. “They serve as role models to younger counterparts and put pride and effort into their work.”

The theme of this year’s celebration is, “Mature Workers...Red, White and True Blue.”

Awards will be presented to older workers who are employed in both public and private sector jobs. Included are those funded through Title V of the Older Americans Act, which serves as a bridge for low income seniors who are able and want to enter or re-enter the job market. Awards will also be given to businesses and companies that make it a practice to employ workers age 55 and older.

The 2002 winners are:
Employees of the Year:

Gail Beard, 64, of Perry was nominated by John Wood Community College’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Beard started with RSVP as a volunteer helping with the “Illinois READS” program and now serves as Special Projects Coordinator. According to her nomination, Beard is a self-motivated, goal-oriented person who utilizes a background in teaching in her work. Starting a popular intergenerational choir, setting up after-school centers in low-income neighborhoods, and setting up after-school mentoring and tutoring programs at Washington School are some of her accomplishments. Beard was a runner-up in the Ms. Illinois American Classic Woman Pageant and received congeniality, spirit and humanitarian awards. She is a respite caregiver for children and elderly with special needs, and teaches piano in her home. She also serves as an instructor for JWCC’s College for Kids and Life Long Learning for seniors.

Donald E. Carlson, 66, of Quincy works at Niewmann’s Foods/County Market in Quincy where he always greets people with a smile. According to his nomination, Carlson “makes the shopper feel like an old-time friend.” He shops with disabled customers, reaching for the products for them. He cleans restrooms, stocks shelves, receives orders from trucks, and sets a wonderful example for the younger workers. When Carlson had a heart attack in February, a young man filled in for him at the store and said he was glad not to have his job because he would never be able to do all the work. His nomination states, “The only awards Don has won are the hearts of those he comes in contact with. He loves people and he seems to sparkle when sharing conversations, communications and gospel topics with friends.”

Victoria Doran, 67, of Chicago was nominated by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Community Health and Nursing. Doran is an administrative assistant in the Bureau and always arrives to work at 6:30 a.m. though her start time is 8:30 a.m. According to her nomination, “She works rings around younger and older employees. Mrs. Doran’s cheerful, helpful attitude makes working in this office a pleasure...She will follow through on problems until the successful resolution...If you look up dependability and integrity in the dictionary, you will find Victoria Doran as the definition.” Doran has many duties and views all of IDHS as part of a team. She gladly helps with tasks and assures they are completed correctly. She takes such pride in the office that she brings in her own cleaning supplies to clean the kitchen area.

Mary Eileen Scully, 75, of Chicago was nominated by the Blind Service Association in Chicago, where she is manager of the Senior Program. For more than 50 years, Scully has been an educator. She has worked with children, adolescents, young adults, adults and now seniors. At the Association, Scully organizes activities, provides educational seminars, edits a newsletter and more. Her nomination states, “She is mature, loving, faithful, just and loyal.” Her work is marked by “stamina, good will, competency, quality of performance and integrity.” The nomination also notes that she brings out the best in others, making them see their own worth, meeting goals, and having the courage to overcome physical limitations. Despite her own impairment with sight, “For her, believing is seeing.”

Louise Starkweather, 89, of Herrin was nominated by the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging. She has had a distinguished career as a seamstress in the garment industry extending 68 years. When a bridal shop closed earlier this year, Starkweather began working part-time at Crab Orchard Lake campgrounds, where her work begins at 6 a.m. checking campground stickers and welcoming visitors. According to her nomination, “Her attendance and dependability are outstanding. Louise’s exemplary work ethic speaks for itself.” Starkweather is described as a “go-getter” who came to work for days before she was to start just to see how things would go. She even once had a tumor removed over her lunch hour and returned to finish the day’s work. She is still active in her church and with sewing, and does not want to retire saying, “retiring makes you old.”

Title V Employees of the Year:

Johnnie Dorris, 69, of Champaign was nominated by the Urban League of Champaign County. As a child, Dorris worked in cotton fields, married at age 17 and had seven children; later divorced and remarried and moved to Champaign. She raised her family and saw that they all received a good education. In January 2002, she attained the personal goal of completing her own high school education. Over the years she has worked in hospital housekeeping and also taken care of an invalid brother and her husband, both of whom are now deceased. In March 2001, Dorris attended Adult Education in the mornings and completed job training at the Champaign Public School System’s Family Information Center in the afternoons. She is now fully literate and her favorite reading material is the Bible. At the Family Information Center, Dorris has many tasks and is noted for her dependability, conscientiousness, disposition and interpersonal skills.

Victoria “Ann” Jones, 64, of Herrin was nominated by Experience Works, Inc., where she has worked as a Field Operations Assistant for eight years and facilitates a job program for seniors in southern Illinois. Her nomination describes her as a “walking community resource manual and has proven herself to be very dependable, caring, patient and genuinely interested in helping those she works with to succeed.” Jones has been the top Field Assistant in the state, placing 25 people from her area each year in unsubsidized employment. She serves as a mentor to new field assistants. She serves as an inspiration to them, showing them that despite unemployment rates and a large rural area in southern Illinois, older people can learn new skills and find meaningful work.

Maxine McMath, 65, of Urbana was nominated by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), where she began volunteering in 2001 before becoming an Administrative Assistant. McMath is an excellent recruiter for RSVP, especially within the minority community, and is noted for her positive attitude, attendance, dependability and punctuality. She will even donate her own volunteer time to the completion of a project if her paid time runs out before a task is completed. McMath, who holds a degree in social work, has demonstrated excellent telephone skills and diplomacy in making calls necessary to locate volunteers for various projects. In her spare time, McMath gives presentations to interested groups. She also donates her time to Crisis Nursery, Girl Scouts, YMCA, and is very involved in her local church.

Employers of the Year:

Super Wal-Mart of Quincy is being honored for actively recruiting older workers. The store has 100 employees who are 50 years of age and older, out of a total of 385 employees. It has about 62 full-time older workers who are entitled to all employee benefits, such as group life and dental insurance plans. Medical insurance benefits are offered to both full and part-time employees. Don Lipsey, store manager, serves on the advisory board of the Experience Counts program, a career development and transitional course developed by the local Area Agency on Aging for older workers. Lipsey has a “no quit policy”- if the duties or work assignments are not good for a particular employee, they make an appointment with him to reevaluate their work assignment. Wal-Mart was nominated by the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging.

Southwestern Illinois Visiting Nurse Association of Swansea is being honored for its long standing tradition of utilizing the state’s Title V program and accommodating a variety of different work schedules to satisfy the older workers, especially those who rely on public transportation. SIVNA, under Director Mike Bader, has hired all of the Title V employees who have worked there for their training. According to the nomination, SIVNA uses innovative training techniques and provides permanent employment. Upon being hired, the employees receive increased wages and benefits. The employees are also honored for making positive contributions to the workplace. SIVNA was nominated by the Southwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging.



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