Seniors Receive Legend Awards
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and the Division of Senior Services Celebrate the Sixth Annual Older Americans Heritage Month.
Several Essex County seniors received special awards during the sixth annual Essex County Older Americans Heritage Month Celebration. Awards were presented by Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and the Essex County Division of Senior Services at Codey Arena on Tuesday.
“Older Americans Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the tremendous contributions our senior citizens have made to shape and mold today's community,” said DiVincenzo. “Our honorees have exhibited a tremendous amount of responsibility by advocating for and providing assistance that is helping their fellow seniors to remains active and continue living in our community.”
- Floria Branch of East Orange received the Essex County Legend Award for her volunteer work with the East Orange Division of Senior Services where she teaches arts and crafts, assists with the food co-op and coordinates senior citizen trips. “I feel honored and elated to receive this award,” said Branch. “I've been working with seniors for 18 years and have been doing volunteer work since I retired 11 years ago. I enjoy it and I will continue to do it for as long as I am able.”
- Zella Geltman of West Orange received the Essex County Legend Award for her volunteer services as a reader for the blind for the Electronic Information and Education Service (EIES) of New Jersey. Geltman, a retired teacher from West Kinney Alternative High School in Newark, leads several writing classes for seniors and disabled residents, organizes blood drives, facilitates programs for people with AIDS and volunteers with the Interfaith Hospitality Food Network.
- Lauretta Freeman of Montclair received the Essex County Legend Award for her volunteer work with Montclair TV34 and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She is a member of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee and organizes Seniorama, a one-day conference to highlight senior issues. Freeman has received several awards for her community activism including her recognition as a founding member of NJSane (Now Peace and Action) in 2007. She said on Tuesday, "It was very exciting receiving the award."
- Special recognition was also presented to Annie Mae Brown and Berniece Kee-Hamilton of Newark as well as Elaine Smith of Orange for their involvement in the Home Friends Program. Home Friends provides services such as cooking, laundry and cleaning to enable senior residents to continue living independently in their own homes.
“A growing percentage of Essex County's population is over 65 and our challenge is providing the appropriate level of care for our aging grandparents, parents and loved ones,” said Jaklyn DeVore, Director of the Essex County Division of Senior Services. “All of our Older American honorees are active in their communities and have taken responsibility for assisting other seniors. They all serve as role models for our youth.”