Office for the Aging honors ‘Outstanding Older Adult’ and 2 community volunteers

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Melissa Blanar, center, introduces Barbara Filipiak of Medina who was named by the New York State Office for the Aging as an Outstanding Older Adult. With them are, from left, Orleans County Legislator Skip Draper, New York State Senator Rob Ortt and New York State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 May 2023 at 4:26 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – The Orleans County Office for the Aging sponsored its first Spring Jubilee in three years at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds this afternoon.

Seniors packed the Trolley Building to be recognized, entertained and to enjoy lunch provided by the Arc GLOW Nutrition Program.

Office for the Aging director Melissa Blanar welcomed the guests and introduced her staff, advisory board and entertainer Kristina Jewell Suski.

“We are excited to be back after a three-year absence, due to Covid,” Blanar said.

County Legislator Skip Draper, State Senator Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley each addressed the audience.

Draper presented Blanar with a proclamation paying tribute to the contributions older Americans make to society.

Hawley spoke of the trials this audience and the country endured in the past few years, but said we were all “strong Americans,” and we persevered.

Ortt told the seniors that everyone knows someone who was not there today because of Covid. He praised the Office for the Aging for making sure critical services were provided through all those difficult circumstances.

“Whatever is happening in America, be assured there are people out there working to make sure America remains the country you created,” he said.

Melissa Blanar, director of the Orleans County Office for the Aging, introduces her staff at the Spring Jubilee Friday at Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds celebrating Older Americans Month.

A highlight of day was recognizing three outstanding seniors, one as New York State’s “Outstanding Older Adult” and two as “Outstanding Volunteers.”

Blanar explained that every year the New York State Office for the Aging seeks nominations of seniors who stand out in their community.

That senior and two outstanding volunteers in the Orleans County OFA office were recognized.

New York State OFA’s Outstanding Older American is Barbara Filipiak of Medina.

The oldest of six children Filipiak grew up in the Eden area. She attended the Immaculate Academy in Hamburg, followed by D’Youville College in Buffalo, finishing her education at Brockport State College. She started her teaching career in Medina in 1972, retiring in June 2005. She taught third and fourth grades for 33 years.

She volunteers (or has volunteered) for the Health Department during Covid, Medina Food Pantry, Medina Area Association of Churches, MAAC’s Thrift Store and Emergency Food Pantry and performed numerous volunteer roles with Medina’s Holy Trinity Parish.

She has held offices with Catholic Daughters and Medina Historical Society’s board of directors. she is a member of Cobblestone Society, Sandstone Society, Friends of the Library at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library and the local Alpha Theta Chapter/Women’s Educator Society, of which she was president, treasurer and member of the rules committee over the years. She is also a member on the state level.

Her nominator (who is unnamed) said, “Barb gives countless hours of her time. I know personally she provides financial assistance anonymously to several of these groups. Barb is very efficient and organized and is always the first to volunteer. She is very generous with her time and money and truly deserves this great honor.”

Filipiak also received certificates from Draper, Hawley and Ortt.

“It was nice of someone to nominate me,” Filipiak said. “My parents always volunteered in their community when I was growing up, so I guess it runs in the family.”

(Left) Christine Sheuerman, right, accepts an award from Melissa Blanar for being an “Outstanding Volunteer” for the Orleans County OFA. (Right) Blanar presents an award to Robert Burtwell of Lyndonville as an “Outstanding Volunteer.”

The two local volunteers who received recognition were Robert Burtwell and Christine Sheuerman.

“We are lucky to have these two individuals who dedicate their time to our volunteer transportation programs,” Blanar said. “Between the two of them, they drove 2,554 miles in 2022, and so far in 2023, they have driven 489 miles. They not only volunteer their time at our office, but they are dedicated weekly drivers for Arc GLOW and deliver meals on wheels to our clients. I am betting they volunteer elsewhere as well.”

Blanar told the recipients they both truly make a difference and are allowing the OFA’s clients to remain independent and in their own homes.

“Thank you for being a tireless volunteer and setting an excellent example for us all,” Blanar added.

The event concluded with a drawing for more than 60 donated prizes.