State Office for the Aging Honors Over 90 Older Adults for their Volunteer Efforts, Civic Contributions

State Office for the Aging Honors Over 90 Older Adults for their Volunteer Efforts, Civic Contributions
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) recently honored over 90 older adults for their volunteerism as part of NYSOFA’s annual Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration presented during a November 3 livestream.

Awardees were nominated by New York’s 59 county Offices for the Aging and their partners who identified older adults making substantial contributions in their communities through volunteering and civic engagement. The livestream and other program materials are available on NYSOFA’s website, including a program book profiling all of the awardees, organized by county.

Also Read: Confronting Ageism: America’s Hidden Bias Exposed

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “It is my distinct honor to recognize this year’s nominees who make the state a better place to live and age for all New Yorkers through their decades of volunteerism, civic engagement, and selflessness. We often don’t think of older New Yorkers as an economic and social powerhouse, but that is exactly who they are, and it is our honor to recognize these contributions and showcase their incredible value. I also thank our 59 county offices for the aging and the Association on Aging in New York for their daily efforts serving millions of older New Yorkers.”

This year’s honorees are from 55 counties in every region of the state. They are recognized for their support of charitable causes, their work with local health care and human services organizations, grassroots civic contributions, volunteer work with emergency management corps, local fundraising activities, and so much more.

Awardees also include volunteers for two statewide NYSOFA-administered programs: The Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (or HIICAP) and the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. These volunteers assume specialized roles that demand many hours of training, intricate problem-solving, and coordination with local organizations to help older adults.

Collectively, this slate of awardees has more than 5,500 years of life experience, more than 4,000 years of family experience, has volunteered for a combined 2,568 years, and raised 298 children, 295 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.

Please read the program book here to find awardees from your region.

Governor’s Exemplary Service Award

During the program, NYSOFA also presented the 2023 Governor’s Exemplary Service Award to Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. of Chautauqua County. This award is presented to an individual who is a standout among the nominees for Older New Yorkers’ Day.

A veteran of the U.S. Army reserves, Mr. Diethrick has served on the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Advisory Board since its creation in 1973. He has received many awards for his professional work and volunteer contributions, including work with the county’s Council on Alcoholism, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and many other organizations.

Contributions of Older Adults

Each year in New York, nearly 1 million volunteers aged 60 and over contribute 495 million hours of community service at an economic value of $13.8 billion. Beyond volunteering, New York’s 4.84 million older adults provide pivotal intellectual, social and economic capital to our state. They are responsible for most volunteering, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and donation activities in the U.S. out of any demographic group. Meanwhile, 64% of individuals age 60 and over own their own homes and have no mortgage, contributing directly to the local tax base. Adults 50 and over are also responsible for approximately $1.8 trillion in federal, state and local taxes, a figure that will quadruple by 2050. They support almost 7 million jobs and represent 63% of the state’s GDP ($700+ billion). 

In recognition of older adults, New York Governor Kathy Hochul this year declared May 2023 as Older Americans Month, saying, “We honor New York’s older adults for their contributions and further our commitment to continue providing for older adults as they age, helping them maintain independence and a good quality of life.” Furthermore, in November of 2022, Governor Hochul initiated the Master Plan for Aging (MPA), which coordinates existing and new state policies and programs for older adults and their families and those living with disabilities. A major goal of the MPA is to help individuals successfully age in place and continue to be active and engaged in their communities.

Background About Older New Yorkers’ Day

Each year, since 1963, federal, state and local governments recognize Older Americans Month in May. New York State goes a step further, additionally holding a special observance of Older New Yorkers’ Day by collecting nominations of exceptional older adults from county-based offices for the aging. While traditionally held in May, Older New Yorkers’ Day has recently been held in November as a virtual event, due to COVID-19. The November program coincides with National Family Caregivers Month as a special spotlight on the contributions of older adults. NYSOFA is planning to resume its in-person celebration of Older New Yorkers’ Day in 2024.

Resource Links

2023 Older New Yorkers’ Day webpage
2023 Older New Yorkers’ Day Program Book
Watch the program on YouTube

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