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2020 Governor's Engaging Aging Award

Senior Services Associates, Inc., of Kane, Kendall, and McHenry Counties

Nominated by AgeGuide.

At the onset of the pandemic, Senior Services Associates began making weekly wellness calls to older adults and enhanced their outreach program by delivering food boxes, personal care products and activity kits to client doorsteps to keep them engaged and healthy. Senior Services Associates transitioned their Friendly Visiting program to Friendly Visiting phone calls to ensure older adults are able to maintain essential connections with their volunteers. SSA also began a new program which provides free tablets to isolated seniors with two years of Bluetooth Internet, so they can easily access their many social programs and classes. Micki Miller, the Executive Director, leads her team with compassion while supporting and encouraging all of the great work the agency is doing.

Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP)

Nominated by AgeLinc (Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland).

Together, along with IDoA, and IDHS' Division of Developmental Disabilities and Division of Rehabilitation Services, IATP developed a new program (Illinois Care Connections) that provides technology devices such as iPads or Tablets to older adults and persons with disabilities who are socially isolated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help facilitate social connections with family and friends. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the IATP staff volunteered their time as Friendly Callers for AgeLinc's telephone reassurance program that is geared towards seniors that are socially isolated or lonely. They provide additional assistance without hesitation when requested, including making individual materials (such as flyers) handicapped accessible, and making their facility available as a large meeting space to host important groups such as I4A. We are confident that IATP, and Executive Director Willie Gunther will continue to go to great lengths to meet the needs of seniors and those with disabilities.

Land of Lincoln Legal Aid

Nominated by AgeSmart Community Resources.

Whether it is protecting seniors and persons with disabilities from fraud, or advocating for social justice and individual rights, Land of Lincoln has always gone above and beyond in providing services to those who need them. Land of Lincoln Legal Aid empowers older adults and teaches them to be strong advocates for themselves leaving a lasting impact. The entire team at Land of Lincoln works tirelessly and can always be counted on to help solve challenges that older adults and persons with disabilities face. The organization, with Greg Shevlin as the President of its Board of Directors, is trusted in the communities they serve, and there is never a doubt that if within their abilities, they will assist and follow though to solve any problem large or small.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency

Nominated by Midland Area Agency on Aging.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, one of the EMA's in Midland Area Agency on Aging's five-county area, continues to go above and beyond normal duties, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jefferson County EMA are the first ones to offer to assist in any way they can. The agency goes above and beyond in offering to help, and all Midland has to do is send an email, knowing that Jefferson County EMA will respond immediately. Whether it is a webinar, a training, local meeting, water shortage, or extreme weather warning, this group is one of a kind and well deserving of recognition. They are among the first to help Midland Area Agency on Aging and the seniors in the area. It is a pleasure to see such a wonderful partnership work in Jefferson County! Congratulations to Steve Lueker, County EMA Coordinator, and his wonderful team!

Cook County Sheriff's Office

Nominated by AgeOptions.

When the pandemic began in the middle of March, AgeOptions was able to solicit the support of the Cook County Sheriff's Office to help them deliver shelf-stable, frozen and hot meals to their clients. Seniors were getting hit especially hard by the virus, shutdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and increased demand for home delivered meals. Officers would fan out all over Suburban Cook County to deliver meals; from Hanover Park to Ford Heights. At first older adults were surprised to see the officers, but they soon came to expect and rely on their new temporary home delivered meals drivers. Special thanks to Lieutenant Yolanda Collins-Watson, Patrick Flannery, and Katie Walsh who coordinated the work with the Cook County Sherriff's Office. These individuals were a virtual control tower operation, connecting officers with home delivered meal routes across 130 communities!