July 24th, 2024

Seniors honoured for their service

By Gillian Slade on August 18, 2017.

Four of the Minister's Seniors Service Awards nominees were recognized at a celebration in Medicine Hat on Thursday. Award nominee Donald McCoy from Milk River is to the left of Seniors Minister Lori Sigurdson, in the front row with award nominee Joy Harper of Redcliff, to the minister's right. Award nominee Racille Ellis from Champion (wearing glasses) andÊaward nominee Bonnie Crocker of Medicine Hat are in the middle row. Also pictured are MLAs Grant Hunter, Drew Barnes, David Schneider and Bob Wanner.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


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A select group of people were honoured at a Thursday celebration in Medicine Hat for their exemplary service to seniors and being nominated for a provincial award.

Bonnie Crocker of Medicine Hat, Joy Harper of Redcliff, Racille Ellis of Champion and Donald McCoy of Milk River were acknowledged as four of the nominees for the annual Minister’s Seniors Service Awards.

“They really make the life of seniors better in Alberta,” Seniors Minister Lori Sigurdson said at the Strathcona Centre Thursday. “To be a nominee you don’t have to be a senior yourself but mostly they are. These are seniors serving seniors.”

In some cases the nominees have made a point of driving seniors to doctors appointments. Sigurdson said this is particularly important for seniors who no longer drive and those in rural areas where there is not always a public system as an alternative mode of transport.

“If they can be driven to a larger centre to see a specialist by someone in their community, who they know, it is much more pleasant,” said Sigurdson.

Crocker has spent the past 50 years volunteering. She demonstrates concern for people, listens to their personal stories, and shows compassion. She personally assists by cooking, baking, cleaning, driving seniors to appointments, and even makes arrangements for someone who may feel overwhelmed by necessary tasks.

“I just love people. I like the interaction and it keeps me young,” said Crocker.

Identifying a need and a solution is a skill she believes she acquired while working as an LPN for 47 years.

Harper says her life exposed her to the suffering of others leading to a strong desire to help those in need. She delivers mail and supplies to seniors who have mobility challenges. She takes seniors to medical appointments and ensures they remain active in the community. Any suggestion that Harper herself has had a difficult life is immediately sloughed off.

“I’ve been so blessed. God has been so good,” said Harper.

Ellis has been called the cornerstone of her community and a community figure for 50 years who was instrumental in establishing a seniors’ centre. Living in a small town, she has always had a strong connection to community, she says. Ellis has been a member, and part of the executive team, of the Champion Pioneer Club since 1962.

“Everyone has to get out and do their share. You can’t just talk about it, you’ve got to get to it,” said Ellis. “As long as I am still well I like to still help where I can.”

McCoy says he drove a handy bus for many years and that made him aware of the needs of seniors. In addition to driving seniors to appointments he organizes fundraisers and helps to plan events. For 17 years he served as president of the Milk River & District Seniors Group.

Helen Hartley of Raymond is also a nominee but was not at the event on Thursday.

From the more than 80 nominees across Alberta only eight will be chosen for the awards. Those names will be announced in early October.

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