Celebrating Seniors Week 2015 is now a memory and a great memory at that. As I reflect on it all, I want to express my gratitude to all the people, businesses and organizations that made this wonderful week happen from May 14-21.

In no particular order, I would like to thank:

Each of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition members: Nick Preys, chair of the “60 Over 60” Committee; Sandra Rowe, who graciously chaired the Events Committee; Desiree Scully-Simpkins, who so ably chaired Ribbon Fest; Pat Koko, who serves as the Celebrating Seniors Coalition treasurer as well as serving on all the committees.  

Additionally, I’d like to thank Robert Stelletello for his service on the Events and the Resource Guide committees; Matt Baron for his work with public relations; Lydia Manning for assistance with events and the Closing Luncheon; Terry Zachata for her service with events and the Resource Guide Committee; Richard Harrison for his work on the Resource Guide and assistance with Marquees.

Also, Carol Cox, 60 over 60; Char Hill, Calling all Collectors; Jill Wagner, 60 over 60 & Resource Guide; Eleonore Weber, 60 over 60 & Resource Guide; John Schumacher, Resource Guide; Kathryn Beedle, Events; Mary Marling, 60 over 60; Elsie Norberg, Resource Guide; Ruth Reko, Events; Terry Powell, Events & Resource Guide; Josie Mazzaia, 60 over 60 & Resource Guide; Desiree Scully-Simpkins, Rib’bon Fest, Events & Resource Guide. 

They all gave their time and talent extensively for the benefit of older adults in our community. They did the heavy lifting and deserve heartfelt thanks!

The events of Celebrating Seniors Week do not occur without the support and participation of our community stakeholders. These are the businesses, government agencies and organizations that serve older adults in our community.

A special thank you to: The Village of Forest Park, Mayor Anthony Calderone, Village Administrator Tim Gillian, Senior Service Coordinator Karen Dylewski; the Village of River Forest, Village President Cathy Adduci, Village Administrator Eric Palm, Police Chief Greg Weiss, Fire Chief Jim Eggert; the Village of Oak Park, Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, Village Clerk Teresa Powell; River Forest Township, Township Supervisor Carla Sloan; Oak Park Township, Supervisor David Boulanger, Township Manager Gavin Morgan; Forest Park Library, Alicia Hammond; Oak Park Library, Debby Preiser; River Forest Library, Blaise Dierks.

From the River Forest Park District, Karen Stille & Mike Sletten; from the Forest Park Park District, Erin Parchert; and from the Park District of Oak Park, Shari Melde & Kate Sniegowski.

A special thank you to Kathryn Beedle at Brookdale Senior Living Center, Heather Lindstrom at the Oak Park Arms and Pat Porter of Belmont Village — without their support and hospitality, many events simply would not happen. Additional thanks to: Tenent Healthcare/West Suburban Medical Center, Sarah Dean; Rush Oak Park Hospital/Gottlieb Hospital, Char Hill; and Loyola Medical Center.

Every January we gather at the Howard Mohr Community Center in Forest Park for our Stakeholder Summit. Thank you to Karen Dylewski and the Village of Forest Park for hosting this gathering. After the summit, we work on our “60 Over 60 Class” and get ready for what we affectionately call Rib’bon Fest. This event celebrates and honors the individuals we induct into our “60 Over 60 Class” for the year, and it kicks off Celebrating Seniors Week.

We are lucky to have some of the greatest rib purveyors in the world in our small hamlet. A special thank you to:

Skrine Chops, Steve and MaryRita Skrine; Smokin M’s, Jim Moia from Forest Park; Robinson’s, Charlie Robinson, and Mickey’s, Don and Nick from Oak Park for their willingness to supply ribs for our kickoff event these past five years. If you suffer from any form of barbeque deficiency, I highly recommend any of these fine, generous establishments. Also, Dave O. from Trader Joe’s has consistently and graciously supplied us with cheese and crackers for this event. Trader Joe’s has always been committed to helping in our community.

Alicia Plomin, Andy Meade, Marc Stopeck and Dan Haley of Wednesday Journal have been great to work with. They put considerable time and effort into the Resource Guide and supporting our mission. Cathy Yen at the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce and Laurie Kokenes of the Forest Park Chamber always do everything they can to help communicate, support and improve the mission of Celebrating Seniors Week. Matt Baron from Inside Edge Public Relations does a wonderful job covering our social media bases with every post, tweet and press release for Celebrating Seniors Week.

We are blessed to have two world-class universities in our own backyard: Concordia University Chicago and Dominican University. These institutions have been huge supporters of Celebrating Seniors Week since its inception in 2010. We rely on their knowledge and vision to guide us along our path.

Many wonderful people work tirelessly to promote the idea that aging is beautiful.  Aging should be celebrated because it represents possibility and opportunity as we each take our personal journey. 

Thank you to all for sharing the journey with me!

Jim Flanagan is the Celebrating Seniors Coalition chairman.

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