Seventh annual Senior Heroes Awards honored caregivers, organizations and senior ambassadors


The seventh annual Senior Heroes Awards ceremony at the Pearson Air Museum on Wednesday, July 12, honored numerous caregivers, organizations and senior citizen ambassadors for their efforts in serving the Clark County senior community.

“It was another successful year for Senior Heroes Awards, giving away 10 awards to individuals and organizations who do exemplary work in Clark County to support and care for elders and people with disabilities,” stated Debi Friesz, a co-chair of the Senior Heroes committee, in an email.

Battle Ground Senior Citizens, Inc. was awarded a grant of Fred Meyer gift cards for group needs during the event. Sharon Wodtke, president of Battle Ground Senior Citizens, Inc., was nominated for the Community Hero award and Battle Ground Seniors Citizens was nominated for the Senior Focused Organization — Not For Profit award.

“I am just more than thrilled that they would even consider us and to be nominated was just over the moon,” Wodtke said. “Battle Ground is a nice little rural area in Clark County and to have a senior center that has exploded like ours from 30 people to almost 400 people … and what we’re able to do with the volunteer organization has just overwhelmed a team of volunteers, and so it was very exciting to even be considered.”

The event kicked off with a catered lunch while attendees mingled. The ceremony featured a keynote speaker, Catherine Van Son, a professor and nurse gerontologist and Walter & Janet Lindblad Distinguished Professor in Geriatrics College of Nursing at Washington State University Vancouver. Van Son’s career has focused on improving care for older adults. She shared some inspiring messages regarding senior citizens and the challenges they face.

“She has worked as a nurse in long-term care, the VA, home health and hospice, assisted living and other senior living settings. Her research focuses on how culture influences the management of chronic conditions, adoption of assistive devices and new models of caregiving for people living with dementia,” the Senior Awards website states about Van Son.

Friesz stated that the seventh annual Senior Heroes Awards event had more sponsors and attendees than ever before.

“My favorite moment was seeing all of the 250-plus faces in the crowd there to support and cheer on the accomplishments and achievements of the awardees,” Friesz stated. “It’s truly a great feeling to be a part of something so big and so special.”

The awardees included:

Julie Williams, Home Instead, Pat Jollota Leadership Award

Lisa Capeloto, CDM Caregiving Services, Michael R. Wilson Caring Heart Award

Joey Yourchek, PNW Aging Specialty Services LLC, Senior Champion Award

Jim Thompson, Home Instead, Caregiver of the Year Award

Rhoda DeSeranno, Family Caregiver, Caregiver of the Year Award

Susanna Patterson, Seventh Generation Elder Care, Caregiver of the Year Award

Arnie Dyer, Community Hero Award

Neva Hall, R.N., Olive Tree Caring Company, Healthcare Professional Award

Community Military Appreciation Committee, Senior Focused Organization - Not For Profit Award

1st Choice Advisory Services, Senior Focused Organization — For Profit Award

Friesz added that she hopes the event will be able to expand its gifting program to be able to give away a second scholarship to a nursing student or another innovation grant to a nonprofit organization in order to support what they do to serve the Clark County senior population.

“There are so many creative and important ways Senior Heroes can contribute to support the elderly and people with disabilities,” Friesz stated. “Thanks to the great minds of our committee members and our generous sponsors, we have unlimited potential to create goals and reach them to new heights.”