Recently an awards ceremony was held at Fort Harrison State Park to honor the winners of the 2014 Golden Hoosier Awards. If you aren’t familiar with these awards, it may be because they’ve only started fairly recently. However their significance is immense. Currently, the Golden Hoosier Award is the highest honor bestowed on a senior citizen in Indiana.
In 2008, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Aging began recognizing senior citizens who have dedicated their lives to community service. Each year, the award winners are nominated by members of their communities who have been directly impacted by their volunteer efforts. The ideal nominees are the unsung heroes of our state who have not received previous recognition for the impact they have made on the lives of others.
Of the 18 award winners this year, I am extremely proud that two of them are from right here in District 67. If you happen to live in their communities, chances are pretty good that you already know them, but I would like to share their stories today so that we can all join in congratulating them for their selfless dedication.
First, I would like to highlight Richard and Leona Adams of Florence, Ind. The couple was nominated together by Jennifer McClellan of LifeTime Resources, Inc., an organization which aims to meet the needs of senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, caregivers, concerned neighbors and the community at large.
Besides being married, a willingness to dedicate their time and energy to volunteering is one thing Richard and Leona have in common. Since their retirement in the late 1990s, they have played a very active role in their community.
Richard serves as the Veterans Service Officer in Switzerland County, helping veterans and their families receive benefits they have earned and deserve. In the meantime, Leona keeps busy with several organizations. She has volunteered as a Pink Lady with the Dearborn County Hospital and also helps families by giving her talent to the local food pantry and to a United Methodist Women’s Group. As a cancer survivor herself, Leona is also involved with Relay for Life.
Last, but certainly not least, Joseph Wayne Peace of Osgood, Ind. was nominated by Holley Rose of the Ripley County Health Department. In addition to his current volunteer service, Joseph is a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran who received two Combat Wounded Purple Heart awards during his service to the United States.
Today, he continues to serve others by assisting veterans who are applying for healthcare benefits. For over 25 years, he has spent a great deal of time traveling to meet with other veterans and using his experience to help them navigate the Veterans Affairs system.
Although brief, I hope that this gives you a better understanding of some of the great work being done right here in our own backyard. Unfortunately, when we read the news, many times we only hear about the negative, and that is why I wanted to dedicate my column this week to these individuals who have lived a life worth sharing.
I want to not only commend Mr. and Mrs. Adams, as well as Mr. Peace, but also thank them. Each one of them has single-handedly made the district that I have the pleasure of representing a better place for all of us. They are the role models we should all strive to emulate, and I challenge each of you to follow their examples, regardless of how big or small.