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VIDEO | Influencers in Aging Awards by Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County

West Bend, WI – The 2024 Influencers in Aging Awards were held this week as Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County recognized those who are making a difference in the lives of senior citizens in the community.

Below is a list of nominees – photos accompany the winners.

influencers

– Erin Brannan continuously and effortlessly displays a sense of peace and comfort to all she interacts with at Care Patrol. She navigates positive changes in seniors lives whether they stay in their own home, someone comes in to help them or they find a new place to call home. As well as excelling in her career, she also finds time to volunteer at Interfaith caregivers and is a member of the Washinton County Caregiver Coalition. Improving the lives of seniors is Erin’s goal.

 

– Carleen Brazee – Compassionate, dedicated and caring for the elderly at Serenity Villa is what makes Carleen Brazee a spectacular caregiver. She’s always looking for opportunities to learn and find efficiencies in the day to day of caregiving. Her welcoming attitude to residents and their families is integral in developing a sense of family at Serenity Villa.

 

– Destiny Brown is a hardworking and empathetic caregiver. She goes above and beyond her job description; treating her residents as if they were family. Helping residents and getting them through tough situations is always done with grace.

 

– Melissa Bublitz is tireless in her goal to end homelessness in West Bend. She is the Executive Director of the West Bend Housing Authority. She operates Meadowbrook Manor which is a federally funded living facility for the low income, disabled and senior individuals. In addition, Melissa also volunteers with the Continuum of Care Program which is a program to aid in providing housing for all.

 

– Sue DeLong has been a team member at Cedar Community for over 30 years. Throughout her career she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to enhancing the lives of older adults and advocate for their well-being. Sue gets to know each one of her patients and their families to provide the best individualized care, education and guidance possible for their unique situation. Sue is a true advocate for seniors and her contributions have undoubtedly made a lasting impact on the lives of those she serves.

 

– Tammy Dickmann is the Dementia Caregiver Support Specialist at the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Washington County. Tammy is part of the Caregiver Coalition that coordinates activities for caregivers in need of respite or support. She also provides Memory Cafes at local libraries which create an accepting social environment for those with memory loss and their caregivers. Tammy teaches caregiver classes throughout Washington County. Through the assistance and education that Tammy provides she has created great relationships with families and community partners that she works with.

 

– Arleen Dornacker – As an Interfaith caregiver volunteer, Arleen Dornacker spends countless hours helping members of our community. She provides transportation to appointments and grocery stores. She even helped a senior move into her new apartment so she could have a more supportive living environment. Arleen is a blessing to all she serves and comes in contact with.

 

– Chris Fay – As a CAN, Chris Fay has worked for over 43 years at Cedar Community. During this time, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our residents by providing exceptional care. To ensure the comfort, dignity and well-being of our residents, Chris exemplifies compassion, empathy and dedication in her daily interactions with both our residents as well as their families.

Jennifer Fechter

Jennifer Fechter is the Benefit Specialist at the Aging and Disability Resource Center. She provides advice to seniors during the year on benefit related needs. In the fall, Jennifer is available to all who need a Medicare prescription drug review. She utilizes the government online system for this review, making sure seniors understand what can be totally incomprehensible. In addition, in conjunction with UW Extension, Jennifer provides a 7-session course called Planning Ahead focusing on end-of-life planning.

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– Adrien Garcia has had an ever-growing influence in health care. His compassionate heart, positive attitude and constant smile have been an inspiration for his co-workers as well as residents. Adrien started as a CNA then worked his way up to Executive Director where the facility went from a 1.9-star rating to a 4.8 rating. Adrien now has a marketing role for a hospice company and uses his skills and compassion to make the end-of-life journey special for all he serves. He goes above and beyond for those he works with.

– Amy Hackman’s heart and love for those that are aging is quite evident when you see her career choice. She has worked for 11 years at Aurora on the Community Outreach team. Amy listens and builds educational offerings based on the needs of seniors. She worked with Interfaith Caregivers to distribute boxes to those socially isolated during COVID. Amy participates in the Washington County Caregiver Coalition to provide respite opportunities for caregivers. She also is a member of SMILE West Bend, making West Bend a better place for those that are aging. We are thankful for Amy’s strong and continued commitment to our seniors, helping them on their path to wellness.

  • Senior Friends, Inc. (Hartford Senior Center) – The Hartford Senior Center, Senior Friends, Inc., is a wonderful place for seniors in Hartford. We are so fortunate to have it. There are a multitude of games and activities to challenge our minds and to socialize with other residents. Lynn Nettesheim and Evie Fritche work tirelessly to improve and offer new learning experiences for us. We are all very grateful and want everyone to know how exceptional Senior Friends, Inc. is.

 

  • Bobbi Holiday – Helping others has been the cornerstone of Bobbi Holiday’s life. Her caring demeanor is evident in her volunteer opportunities. She volunteers for The American Red Cross as a Disaster Action Responder. Bobbi also is active as a Red Cross Blood Drive volunteer. These organizations help people at all ages, including the elderly. At home Bobbi is busy crocheting for those in need through her church. Bobbi cares and is willing to do what she can to help.

Kewaskum High School Kettle Moraine Gardens Volunteer Group

The Kewaskum High School Kettle Moraine Gardens Volunteer Group has spent countless hours fostering multigenerational connections at the assisted living facility, Kettle Moraine Gardens. Their interactions have helped combat loneliness and social isolation. What an impact they are making on the aging population. In addition to talking with residents, playing cards and going for wals, the volunteers planned a prom event for the residents. This event included decorating, serving food and making crosages for the Shake, Rattle and Roll themed event. Staff, residents and families all agreed that the students have certainly enhanced the lives of older adults.

Nancy Mehring – About 55 years ago while president of the West Bend junior women’s club, the women decided that our community needed something for their seniors. Thus began Nancy Mehring’s love and volunteering and the notion of helping our elderly population. They got the ball rolling, and the Senior Citizens Center was born. Amongst numerous city-wide organizations, Nancy also continues to be involved in activities to help seniors in various ways. These include Harvest House, Eucharist ministry at several health care facilities and Interfaith Kindness Crew. Service to others has been an important part of Nancy’s life.

– Mary Beth Mills – Concern for the wellbeing of nursing home residents is a top priority for Mary Beth Mills. She has shown this repeatedly to all at Serenity Villa. Mary Beth not only demonstrates compassion and concern for seniors through her daily routine and care but also their spiritual well-being. Weekly she would recite the Rosary with those that desire to hear that. She is still working hard to make those at Serenity Villa feel loved and cared for.

 

  • Jacob Moeller – As communication coordinator at the City of West Bend, Jacob Moeller has led the city in establishing the Age Friendly Community Steering Committee known as SMILE. SMILE stands for Supporting Multigenerational Inclusive Living Environment. This is an AARP nationwide initiative to help communities implement the components of an age friendly community. Jacob has done an outstanding job in leading data collection and defining goals and objectives to make West Bend a better place for seniors to live.

 

– Harold Siercks has been volunteer driving for Interfaith since 2018. To date, he has driven approximately 49,000 miles and taken over 2,700 hours of his time to impact senior’s lives in a positive way. Harold also is a volunteer trainer for Interfaith, doing ride-a-longs and helping out with wheelchair training. He created a 4-page document detailing procedures and safety tips for new volunteers. Harold always comes to the Interfaith office full of humor, a good smile and a wealth of stories. He goes above and beyond to personally speak to each client and make them feel important. To quote one client: “What I appreciate most about Harold is that he seems to be really caring and it is not often you find some like that.”

 

  • Gil Sheridan is a driver and volunteer for Interfaith Caregivers. He has touched and continues to touch the lives of countless seniors around Washington County. Gil is always patient and caring with everyone he encounters. He is always happy to go above and beyond to make others happy. His smile and cheerful nature spreads through the community like sunshine. Gil is first and foremost a leader and is the finest example of passionate volunteerism. He has inspired and educated countless others in the benefits of volunteering. His work ethic, pleasant personality and dedication are exceptional.

Tamarack Adult Day Services/ Tamara Warnecke

The team at Tamarack provides a welcoming and safe environment for seniors to spend their daytime hours. Tamarack provides stimulating activities, delicious food and snacks and fabulous spa services. The team develops a bond with each guest and share parts of their lives with them. Tamarack involves families in everything they do. Caregivers can confidently get a well-deserved break and know their loved one is being cared for. Tamara and her staff genuinely care about each guest and have changed the lives of many individuals and families.

 

  • Sharon Tesker is an integral part of Washington County senior care mission. Sharon is the site manager for the senior dining program of Washington County at one of the West Bend sites. She is responsible for meal service, compliance and outreach. She not only provides a meal to seniors but activities and socialization. Sharon consistently and seemingly with ease juggles in person dining, home delivered meals and a multitude of other needs. Every single person associated with senior dining comments about stellar performance. Sharon works tirelessly in everything she does for the seniors in Washington County.
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  • Tina Thull is the owner of Kettle Moraine Gardens and Cornerstone assisted living facilities in Kewaskum and West Bend. Tina has served countless amounts of families and has built such a reputable reputation within the Washington County community. Tina has partnered with a local day care center to incorporate children engaging with the senior residents which cultivates both generations in such a positive manor. It takes special commitment, passion and dedication to run a successful facility and for that, Tina is worth recognizing.

–  Wendy Vorpahl is the financial services supervisor at Cedar Community. Wendy has worked at Cedar community for over 39 years and has been dedicated to our mission of serving seniors. We truly could not have gotten through a new healthcare software implementation without her. She has shown leadership, determination, professionalism and steadfast commitment while maintaining her usual level of positivity and humor. Wendy has served Cedar Community in a variety of capacities over the years and has done it well each time.

– Mary Williams is a dedicated registered nurse and Staff Development Coordinator for Cedar Community. Mary embodies the essence of compassionate care with a strong commitment to enhancing the lives of our residents along with enhancing the skills of our staff. In collaboration with colleagues, she restarted a mentor program and brought back the Nursing Assistant Training program. Mary is not only a skilled educator but also a compassionate advocate for our resident’s. She goes above and beyond to ensure she enhances the quality of life of those she serves.

Below is an article that ran earlier about Nancy Mehring winning the Spirit of Judy Phillips Award.

West Bend, WI – Nancy Mehring received a standing ovation as she was named the winner of the 2024 Spirit of Judy Phillips Award during the 3rd annual Influencers in Aging Award ceremony presented by Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County.

Mehring was recognized for starting the Senior Citizens Center. She was also heavily involved in the Harvest House Eucharist Ministry, Interfaith’s kindness group, and she started the first nursery school in West Bend.

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“I just like to help people,” said Mehring. “As you can tell I’m really old, so I’ve been doing it a long time. Really, if you just give a little, you get back so much more.

“I just found so much happiness helping others or doing something for others I even worked for my husband as a volunteer means no pain for many years, but he said I could
eat whatever I wanted, and I did.”

The 3rd Annual Judy Phillips Influencers in Aging Award ceremony was held at Cedar Ridge with food provided by Bryan’s Catering. The event is held to honor the memory of Judy Phillips, who had been a long-standing Interfaith board member and a champion for seniors in the community.

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Here is a look back at the Influencers in Aging Judy Phillips Memorial Award event from 2023.

Judy

The award, established by Interfaith Caregivers of Washington Co., honors Judy Phillips and her legacy of passionate work for senior citizens. The evening recognized those in the community whose work demonstrates creative, impactful and strong advocacy for the senior citizens in our community.

More than 20 people were nominated.  Winners are listed below:

Paula Hader brings her passionate, servant heart to work every time she walks through the door at Senior Citizens Activities, Inc. or “SCAI” in West Bend. With Paula’s incredible leadership over the past 6 years, this gem of a resource for those 50 and older in West Bend has grown exponentially where she has been the director for 5 years. During her tenure the center has seen exponential growth, even with all of the Covid set-backs to overcome. Paula has brought vast new offerings of innovative health & wellness programs, travel opportunities, arts and crafts. The center is bustling and bursting as new members discover Paula’s newest offerings along with those established favorites like Pickleball and of course, Sheepshead!! With her genuine warm & welcoming style, Paula ensures that each participant feels like a valued member and essential part of the Senior Activities community.

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Kevin Pratt & Kewaskum High School Students – Addy DeRuyter, Katelyn Scannell, and Mia Vetter, along with Tammy Anderson – current Director of the ADRC –

This past school year, an amazing thing happened for older adults in Washington County! Kevin Pratt, a teacher at Kewaskum High School, along with the help of students – Addy DeRuyter, Katelyn Scannell, and Mia Vetter – started a technology class that would help older adults learn to better use their devices – cell phones and tablets.  This class was a collaboration with Tammy Anderson and the ADRC and was an effort to combat social isolation. If these students could help seniors develop the skills necessary, the senior would be able to use technology to keep in touch with friends and family. Mia and Katelyn actually created the curriculum and would run this 6-week class – how cool is that?! They found they needed another teacher and soon added Addy. The class will be starting its 3rd session soon – and even caught the attention of Fox 6 news!  The intergenerational relationships being built have made a very meaningful impact on the lives of both students and seniors. Kevin and his students truly hope they have paved the way for other schools to impact lives outside the school building in such an impactful way.

Passionate about health & happiness, Jen Lenzendorf lives to share that passion with others, as the owner and founder of AIMS Fitness in Barton, WI.  Jen’s journey into health goes far beyond exercise for weight loss, as she is also a recent breast cancer survivor. Working to live each day to the fullest, Jen understands the importance of living one’s best life through fitness. She is a perpetual learner of how to keep people moving safely and how to have fun doing it well. She will tell you she does not know it all and then will find the answer for you!  Although fitness was not her first love, she has found it to be her purpose and passion in life as she loves to get people moving.  Her strength is positivity, which has been very helpful in overcoming challenging times. She uses her gratitude for life and energy to make each class unique and fun. Jen’s programs are specifically for our aging, older adults. She offers a class for those with Parkinson’s Disease called “Rock Steady Boxing,” and one called “Warriors Against Sarcopenia” which is group focused on combating muscle loss as part of the aging process. Her students will tell you over and over her impact is hard to measure.  When Jen is not in the studio, she is spending time with her triplets, as well as her husband and a few furry friends.

Susan Schickert began her career in the field of geriatrics in 1976, becoming a licensed practical nurse in 1981.   Susan’s entire career has been caring for frail elders who deserve dignity and compassion from those who provide it.  Anyone do any quick math? That is 47 years!! For 47 years, Sue has been that person at Cedar Community. Sue’s passion has never wavered, her calming presence always a blessing, and her outstanding leadership a beacon for all in the nursing and caregivers’ careers to follow.  Every day, Sue works to make the life of the seniors in her care just a little bit better, whether it’s in little ways or big, it all makes a difference. From a simple hug, compliment, or treat – she ensures each senior feels like a member of her family. Sue worked alongside Judy Phillips for many years – they shared many values and their goals the same – provide outstanding care to those you serve. For Sue, that has been over 95,000 outstanding care hours and counting!

The big winner of the night Rachel Kaehny-Frank who secured the 2023 “Spirit of Judy Phillips” Influencer in Aging Award.

 Rachel Kaehny-Frank has shown a consistent life-long dedication to bettering the lives of seniors. Her work with seniors began at the Washington County Aging and Disability Resource Center where in 2017, she received the Washington County Employee Appreciation Award for Integrity. It was this and her incredible passion and commitment that led Judy Phillips to simply “adore” working with Rachel – Judy was a Rachel fan. After 5 years at Washington County, Rachel continued her work with seniors, bringing her outstanding leadership skills to Milwaukee County’s ADRC as their Director.  Then, for a time, Judy got her wish – working side-by-side with Rachel at Gericare. Rachel continues to make an impact in the world of elder care, now at the state level with Wisconsin’s Department of Human Services. Right up there with her love of seniors, is her love of animals, as she also shares her time and talent fostering dogs as they await their forever home

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