Maybe it’s someone special in your life. Or you know an individual, down the street or around town, who fits the bill.
Either way, you have until Valentine’s Day to convey your affection and appreciation for the role that person has played, or continues to play, in the life of the community. The only stipulation: he or she needs to be at least 60 years old.
And it’s not by chance that the Celebrating Seniors Coalition has set February 14th as the deadline for nominations for this year’s “60 Over 60” class of honorees.
“We are on the lookout for people whose love for others, and for the community, has made a real difference over the years,” said Jim Flanagan, founder and chairman of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition.
In making your nomination of 150 words or less, individuals are asked to provide reasons in support of their nominee, such as community service, commitment, creativity and influence on the community. (See below for contact information to send your nomination.)
This is the fourth year that Celebrating Seniors has recognized seniors from Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park for their contributions over the years.
Of the approximately 180 honorees during the initiative’s first three years, they have ranged from those who just turned 60 to more than 10 in their 90s and a few who have reached the century milestone.
Each is invited to a dinner event, known as Rib’bon Fest, that kicks off Celebrating Seniors Week in May. In addition, all honorees are included in a Celebrating Seniors Resource Guide, along with their photographs and brief biographical information.
“We invite people to nominate well-known public figures as well as lesser-known, but also significant, individuals who have made an impact on others’ lives,” Flanagan said. “This is one way we can honor and express our thanks to some of those who have played a key role in the vibrancy of our community.”
Past honorees have included the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce & Development Executive Director Laurie Kokenes; District 200 School Board member Ralph Lee; Don Offermann, senior vice president at Forest Park National Bank and former District 200 Superintendent; prolific author Lee Brooke; and Gloria Onischuk, proprietor of Oak Park’s bed-and-breakfast mainstay, Under The Gingko Tree.
Doug Deuchler of Oak Park, a longtime educator, journalist and theater writer, was a “60 over 60” honoree in 2013. He said he was “greatly honored and surprised” by the recognition.
“It's such a wonderful thing to be celebrated just for ‘doing what you do,’ staying active and connected and enjoying the benefits of community involvement,” Deuchler said. “I always feel so fortunate that there are so many opportunities for enrichment in these villages. And it's a wonderful thing that we celebrate seniors who stay in the game and keep building our community.”
This year’s Celebrating Seniors Week is from May 15 to May 22.
Last May, the group organized the third annual Celebrating Seniors Week consisting of 50 events over a one-week span that ranged from a display of hot rods and other cool cars on Madison in Forest Park to a gamut of seminars and other fun events. Those events were held throughout Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.
Since its creation and working closely with Senior Services departments in local townships, the Coalition has raised funds to aid seniors in crisis. Its other objectives have been to facilitate cooperation among the business community, government agencies and non-profit organizations for the benefit of the senior population; to promote senior groups and organizations that serve persons 60 and older; and to raise public awareness of issues affecting seniors.
Nominations can be submitted by email to Jim Flanagan at firstname.lastname@example.org, to Patricia Koko at email@example.com or by mailing a hard copy of the nomination to: Celebrating Seniors, 410 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park IL 60302.