Adult Services Expo
by Allison Haver
For more than a decade, the Adult Services Coalition of Watauga County has hosted the event with a purpose to heighten community awareness of available services, to identify and address needed unavailable services and to develop a networking system for citizens and agencies in the community.
Dozens of seniors participated in the informative, fun-filled event in their honor, with various agencies from around the High Country showcasing the services they provide for them.
This year's event was a great success, organizers said.
"This is our 12th expo, so we have been doing this for a long time," Jen Teague, coalition board member and director of the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center in Boone, said.
"Hopefully, we will continue to do this for 12, 15 or 25 more years," she said.
"We have 60-plus vendors here this year," Jackie Roberts, coalition board member, said. "We are so excited about the participation and about the community response that we're seeing here today."
"All the money raised through the Adult Services Expo registration and sponsorship will go back to the community to help fund different programs that benefit the elderly and disabled population," Roberts said.
"We would really like to thank Medi Home Health and Hospice and Gentiva home health for their sponsorship," Teague said.
From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the mall was transformed into a festival-like atmosphere. In addition, the Celebration of Living Awards were presented at noon by members of the coalition, with the assistance of emcee Sue Counts.
A highlight of the expo each year is the presentation of the Celebration of Living Awards, given to "very special and deserving individuals," organizers said.
Roger and Sheri Church were recognized as the 2013 Caregivers of the Year.
"Rodger and Sheri are multigenerational caregivers, have been foster parents for over 30 years and also care for parents," Teague said.
Ann Graham was named "Centenarian of the Year." "Ann worked for an optometrist here in Boone until she was 85 years old," Roberts said. "The only reason she retired was because her boss was retiring."
Venita Peterson was named "Resident of the Year." Peterson, a resident of Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living, participates in the Resident Ambassador Program. "She always has a smile on her face," Teague said. "Venita Peterson truly embodies a wonderful facility resident."
Carol Teague and Marcella Henderson were named "Volunteers of the Year." "Marcella and Carol have been volunteers for more than 10 years," Teague said. "They also started a Day Break program at Deerfield, a caregiver support group."
Jay Erwin was noted as the "Individual with Disabilities." Erwin has worked with Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation for 15 years. Last August, Erwin was injured when a tree fell on him while working in his yard.
Since then, Erwin has gone back to work and has formed a Spinal Cord Support Group that holds monthly meeting and blogs online. There are currently 138 members and growing, according to Susan King with BREMCO.