The NEK Council on Aging held its Annual Meeting on Nov. 8 at the Old Meeting House on York Street in Lyndonville. Over 70 people were in attendance including State House Representative Connie Quimby, Janet Hunt, executive director of the Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and Mary Woodruff of the Department of Aging and Independent Living.
The meeting began with a welcome from the Council’s Executive Director, Meg Burmeister, and an address from Board President Jon Fitch. A new slate of Board of Directors officers were nominated and approved. Kathy Hemmens, who lives in East Hardwick, was elected the new board president, Jon Fitch, from St. Johnsbury, was elected vice president, Betsy Millmann, from East Burke, was elected secretary, and Margaret Healey, from St. Johnsbury, will serve as treasurer.
Jon Fitch expressed his gratitude to St. Johnsbury resident Caroline Frey, a six-year member of the board of directors, for her service to the Council and Ruth Duckless, from Newport, was welcomed as a new member to the board of directors.
During the Annual Meeting, the council honors a volunteer with an award to celebrate and recognize their dedication and service to the Council and its mission and the impact this person has had in their community to benefit older Vermonters. The Council presented Jenny Patoine with the 2018 Humanitarian Hero award. Patoine started at the Council in 2002 as an Outreach Specialist in the nutrition department. Over the past 16 years, she has trained and led multiple wellness classes in strength and mobility building, falls prevention, and Tai Chi. She has grown the Council’s wellness program from three sites to 17 across the Northeast Kingdom. Currently the Council provides 37 wellness classes every week with the assistance of 57 volunteers.
“This year Jenny has been instrumental in introducing the new evidence-based Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, another testament to her commitment to the wellness needs of our community,” said Burmeister. “Jenny's 16-year dedication to the Council has allowed us to lead the state in wellness programs for older Vermonters and for this, we remain eternally grateful.”
A panel discussion was led by several Council volunteers who represent a cross-section of Council services. Ken and Janney Johnson from Greensboro described the work they do to support the Meals on Wheels program in the Hardwick area. Gloria Powers, who directs the Glover Community Meal Site, spoke of the impact the Council has in her community and the joy she receives from the work she does. Cindy Poginy, who is currently caring for a family member managing Alzheimer’s, offered her perspective on the role family caregivers have and the valuable support provided by Council staff and volunteers.
The meeting concluded with staff recognition for years of service: Kelly Sawyer (15 years), Jodi Lessard (10 years), Lucy LeMay (10 years), Lynn Goulding (10 years), Patty Beckwith (5 years), and Laura Weaver (5 years).