For the fourth consecutive year, the Celebrating Seniors Coalition has selected a wide-ranging, talented and passionate group of men and women to serve as the collective face of the vibrant, difference-making force that seniors are in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.
They are this year’s “60 Over 60”—and this year, there are 62 of them, to be exact. The collection brings to nearly 250 the number of people who have received the accolade from Celebrating Seniors since its 2011 inception.
The 2014 Class was among more than 100 people who gathered Thursday, May 8th at the Nineteenth Century Club, 178 Forest Ave. in Oak Park, for Rib’bon Fest, the kickoff event for Celebrating Seniors Week.
The event’s name is a nod to the rib-themed dinner that is served, courtesy of sponsoring restaurants Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs, Mickey’s Gyros & Ribs, Smokin M’s and Skrine Chops. In addition, Trader Joe’s provided hors d’oeuvres.
The evening ushers in more than 40 events that will be held throughout Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park from May 15th to May 22nd. The Week highlights the contributions that older adults make to our community and way of life, said Jim Flanagan, founder of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition.
Nearly all of the events are free of charge for all comers, and every event is free for anyone 60-plus. The sessions are geared toward education and entertainment, featuring the creative ideas of community organizations such as libraries, park districts, hospitals and senior service agencies.
Hailing from Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, all appear in the Senior Resource Guide that began circulating throughout the communities this week at public buildings, businesses and other venues. Of those who agreed to have their ages listed in the Resource Guide:
*The youngest are a pair of 61-year-olds
*The eldest is 90.
*Eleven are in their 80s
*Twenty-one are in their 60s, and another 21 are in their 70s.
“I see people who are just getting started, people who are entering a new phase of life,” Flanagan said to those gathered Thursday evening. “I see people who may be just embarking on the journey of a lifetime….We are here to Celebrate Seniors for what they have accomplished but also what they have yet to do.”
Also addressing the audience was River Forest Township Supervisor Carla Sloan, whose remarks included a quote from famed Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz that drew laughter: “Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.”
On a more serious note, Sloan lauded the collaboration between Oak Park and River Forest townships, including the shared Senior Services effort led by Desiree Scully, who is also a member of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition.
“Your wonderful contributions reflect dedication, energy, stamina, creativity, experience, wisdom, and passion,” said Sloan. “Thank you for all you do to make our community a better place.”
Along with photos of the 25 men and 37 women, the Senior Resource Guide lists some of their volunteer and industry roles over the years along with a brief quotation that imparts some wisdom. A sampling:
“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” (Lynn Winikates)
“The most important trip you take in life is meeting people halfway.” (Jeanne R. Stein)
“Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.” (Christine Worny)
“Start every day by asking yourself, ‘What can do I better today?’ And be grateful you woke up.” (Ron Sherman)
“I am a fan of the Beatles: ‘All you need is love.’ I am a fan of Jesus: ‘Love your enemies.’” (Rev. Sally Iberg)
The 60-page Senior Resource Guide includes a variety of information useful for all residents, particularly seniors, all year-round. Featured on the cover is Dr. Terry Light, an orthopedic surgeon at Loyola University and Shiners Hospital for Children. He was among those in attendance on Thursday.
In addition to their appearance in the Senior Resource Guide, all of the “60 Over 60” honorees are profiled on the organization’s website, www.CelebratingSeniors.net.
The week will culminate with the closing luncheon at Concordia University in River Forest., with a keynote talk from Harry Porterfield, the 85-year-old newscaster who exemplifies the prototype of an active older adult who still has plenty of contributions to make. Past keynote speakers have included former Chicago Bulls basketball player Sidney Green and ABC 7’s Roz Varon, a River Forest resident.
Currently the co-anchor of the 11 a.m. newscast for CBS 2 Chicago, Porterfield will share from his long and storied career in broadcast journalism.
The fee for the Closing Luncheon, to be held at the Koehneke Community Center, is $20. For more information about that or any other Celebrating Seniors event, visit www.CelebratingSeniors.net or the organization’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CelebratingSeniors.