celebration of Older American Month, the standout service of
seven senior volunteers is recognized in a special ceremony
during the Sacramento
County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this month. The
award recipients are, from left, Pat Biel (on behalf
of recipient David Huleva), Joe
Miguel, Lois Glass, Bubbles Miguel, Pat Alamao, Wayne Shimizu
and Bernice Kong. —Courtesy photo
Volunteer Award Recipients Recognized
Jennifer K. Morita
of older adults in Sacramento County are putting their golden years
to good use, whether it’s feeding hungry seniors or helping
them exercise their brains.
In celebration of Older Americans Month, the Adult and Aging Commission recognized
seven standout senior volunteers including Bernice Kong, David Huleva, Lois Glass,
Pat Alamao, Wayne Shimizu and Joe and Bubbles Miguel.
“Many seniors have been volunteering their services for decades, so I think
it’s always a good thing to acknowledge those that help us,” said
Adult and Aging Commissioner Alex Eng, who coordinated this year’s awards.
“It also helps encourage other seniors to get involved as well.”
President John F. Kennedy established May as Older Americans Month in 1963, when
only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays and nearly
a third lived in poverty, according to the Administration on Aging.
Today more than 41 million Americans are aged 65 and older. They’re not
only living longer, they’re volunteering their services in the community
“It’s no secret, we’re all getting older and the aging community
is getting larger,” Eng said, adding that the economic crisis has forced
agencies to cut senior services at a time when the population is growing.
“It’s quite a challenge to keep things going.”
Older Americans Month helps put the spotlight on the needs of seniors as well
as recognize their contributions, said Eng, a former state employee who wanted
to continue serving after he retired.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt to call attention to our senior situation…and
remind the Board of Supervisors that we’re still here and a number of us
are doing good work,” he said. “What’s nice is that it also
acknowledges our senior volunteers.”
Each year the Adult and Aging Commissions honors senior volunteers like 90 year-old
David Huleva, who has been volunteering at the Senior Center of Elk Grove nearly
every day for the last 30 years.
Huleva rides his bike to the center Monday through Friday and serves lunch to
seniors. He also sorts and distributes canned goods each month and helps maintain
the center by climbing up onto the roof and removing debris after storms.
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“I just saw an opportunity to help people,” said Huleva. “It’s
pretty hard to get people to serve and clean up. I just wanted to give something
back to the community after I retired.”
Huleva, a retired Sacramento Army Depot foreman, said the award was unexpected.
“I don’t believe I should have it. I believe others are more worthy
than me. I just wanted to give back to the community, and I don’t think
I need an award for that,” Huleva said.
“It’s great to be able to help. I think as long as you’re healthy
enough to do it, more people should volunteer and be givers instead of just takers.”
Fellow award recipient Wayne Shimizu agrees.
“I think volunteering just adds more depth and value to my retirement by
being able to contribute to others,” he said.
The 62 year-old California Department of Education retiree has been volunteering
at the Asian Community Center since 1990, when he started helping out at the
nursing home’s weekly Bingo sessions.
When Bingo ended in 2007, Shimizu started holding “memory training” workshops
that helped seniors improve their memories through entertaining brain exercises.
“It’s a holistic approach to living well and keeping fit,” Shimizu
said. “It kind of grew out of leading some exercise classes that had a
minor mental acuity piece, and it just seemed like putting the whole picture
together made a lot of sense.
“… A lot of people have been interested in doing it.”
Since then, he has taught Brain Fitness at various sites throughout Sacramento.
“There was a woman who had to renew her driver’s license and she
came up to me and said the memory techniques helped her remember stuff for the
test,” Shimizu said. “I was pretty tickled about that. Those stories
make me feel good about what I do.”
The reward from Adult and Aging Commission was just a bonus “treat.”
“I was honored that they would pick me,” he said. “But there
are all kinds of unheralded volunteers who aren’t recognized. There are
tons of them out there that do a lot of work for agencies, who are kind of invisible,
but they love doing it.”
Bernice Kong is longtime volunteer at the Cordova Senior Center, who arrives
every morning at 7:40 to prepare and serve food to seniors as well as schedule
volunteers. She also started a weekly piano sing-along.
In addition to their popular Life History Writing Class at the Hart Senior
Center, every year Joe and Bubbles Miguel dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus
a dozen different charities throughout the region. Joe’s antics are also
a popular draw at the Hart Senior Center’s Strength and Balance exercise
class, which he leads.
Lois Glass also received a volunteer award for her work at the front counter
of the Mission Oaks Community Center in Carmichael.
Glass not only pitches in where she’s needed, she also volunteered her
daughter’s baby lambs for the center’s Easter festivities.
The Adult and Aging Commission also recognizes a volunteer from a non-profit
organization and this year’s recipient was Pat Alamao, a volunteer supervisor
at Senior Gleaner’s.
Over the years, Alamao has helped train volunteers on the food bank computer
system, taken charge of the accounts and supervises the inventory. Not only
does Alamao work at Senior Gleaners five days a week, she also filled a vacant
on the board.
The Older Americans Month Senior Volunteer Award recipients were recognized
during a special ceremony at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors meeting
K. Morita is a freelance writer in West Sacramento.
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