Area senior citizens honored during Older Americans luncheon

CRYSTAL LAKE – More than 100 senior citizens were honored at St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Thursday in celebration of Older Americans Month.

Hosted by the Senior Care Volunteer Network, the seniors were treated to lunch, door prizes and live music during the sixth annual luncheon.

“It’s a way for us to give back to the seniors we serve but also the community at large,” said Sarah Ponitz, executive director of Senior Care Volunteer Network. “Everyone is welcome. It’s a great way for people to get together and socialize.”

Ponitz said the Senior Care Volunteer Network, formerly Faith in Action, stresses the importance of socialization and independence among the senior citizens they serve.

“When they feel that they can still be a viable part of the community, it’s important,” she said. “Independence is something that a lot of us take for granted.”

About 120 seniors and 20 volunteers attended Thursday’s luncheon, which was also sponsored by Preferred Health Care Limited.

“It’s an excellent turnout,” said Nicole Erickson, vice president of business development at Preferred Health Care. “It’s nice to see that so many [seniors] are out, active and being independent.”

Senior Citizens Month was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, and it was renamed by President Jimmy Carter to Older Americans Month in 1980, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging. Each president since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation honoring America’s senior citizens, especially those who have served overseas.

The Senior Care Volunteer Network has put on the annual luncheon since 2008, and attendance has grown each year, Ponitz said.

“We’re hoping it will keep growing every year,” she said. “Our mission overall is to help seniors maintain their independence.”