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Senior Services Names Its Top Employee and Employer

It was an honor she deserved, yet, in a humbling acceptance message, she said, "I am very happy and excited but what have I done to deserve this honor?"

A home care provider who has administered to Alexandria's elderly for nearly 30 years, Emma Hayes was named Senior Services of Alexandria Employee of the Year on June 6 at the organizations 34th Annual Meeting.

In presenting the 2003 Award to Emma Hayes, a resident of North Peyton Street, Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley noted that, "Emma Hayes has provided home care to elderly Alexandrians since 1973, when her daughter was just 13. And her daughter, who is all grown up now, followed in her mother's footsteps as a home care provider and client of Senior Services."

The award is presented to the employee who has been reliable and dependable, has worked well with the agency, has been praised by employers for performance, and has demonstrated a commitment to the community.

EACH YEAR, SENIOR SERVICES also recognizes the Employer of the Year who has shown a commitment to hiring seniors, has repeatedly used the organization and has provided feedback on our clients, according to Senior Services Executive Director, Susan Dawson.

The 2003 recipient was a young Alexandria company, Zero Tolerance, Inc., which has placed 11 orders with Senior Services since their inception in 1997. As pointed out by Donley, in presenting the award, "Two of the original senior employees are still with them."

He also noted, "This organization has worked for years to promote senior employment in Alexandria." In accepting the award, Zero Tolerance's President, Marcella M. Corbett, said, "We consider ourselves the friend of every employer and the safeguard for every employee."

As noted in the nomination, Zero Tolerance's mission is to help employers prevent workplace discrimination and sexual harassment through its liability and risk reduction program. The company also indicated that in their opinion, "the value of senior employees is the best kept secret in Northern Virginia."

MORE THAN 70 persons attending this year's luncheon ceremony in the Faith Activities Center, First Baptist Church of Alexandria, heard guest speaker, Jane Woods, Secretary, Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, warn that, "We have to realize that we can't have business as usual. But are we ready?"

A native Northern Virginian and life-long resident of Annandale and Fairfax, Woods spent 20 years as an educator and has served as a State House delegate and senator. "The leadership of Alexandria gets the fact that Virginia is a series of communities and senior

citizens are a vital part of every one of those communities," Woods said.

"The boomer generation is not used to waiting. We want it now. We want it to be the best. And, we want it cheap. We need to learn some lessons from the generation before us," she insisted.

"We need to be about helping communities throughout Virginia. Communities need to be able to say, 'yes, we are senior friendly.' It won't be long before some communities have 80 percent of their voters in the senior category," Woods emphasized.

She cited Governor Mark Warner's program, which he initiated while still a private entrepreneur, called Senior Navigator. It is a computer linkage to a wide array of senior services and health providers. "It is averaging 4,000 hits per week," Woods said.

"Seniors can only strengthen any and all discussions," she stated. Woods also referred to two upcoming programs designed to benefit senior citizens.

* A mid-July target to work with drug companies to enroll all eligible seniors in a program that will cap prescription drug purchases at $15 per month. "It will serve all medicare recipients up to 200 percent of the poverty level," she noted.

* On Oct. 9, a program will be launched to work with public television to create communities of caring, Woods revealed.

IN OTHER ACTION, Dawson presented the organization's Annual Report. She stated, "Senior Services is as strong as it has ever been financially and programmatically." She cited Senior Services' primary fund-raiser for the past year, "An Evening to Remember."

A dinner/dance honoring those families whose Alexandria heritage goes back at least five generation, it raised $15,000 Dawson reported. She also identified the Alexandria Calendar, produced since 1980, as a consistent revenue producer.

Linda Couture was named to a one year term as the new president replacing Richard Walker, who came into office in June 2001, and is now Immediate Past President. Other officers for the 2002/2003 year are: Vice President, J. Howard Middleton, Jr.; Treasurer, William Harris; Secretary, Phyllis Bogle; and Corresponding Secretary, Sabrina Reilly.