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Mechanicsburg, Pa. (June 20, 2019) - LeadingAge PA kicked off its 2019 Annual Conference + EXPO by recognizing this year's Distinguished Service Award recipients. Established in 1973, these awards honor the exemplary work performed by individuals or groups from member organizations who are enhancing the aging services field through their involvement, innovation, leadership or advocacy.

Tama Carey, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for Presby's Inspired Life, and host of the Distinguished Service Awards brunch, said, "Not only have these members raised the bar through their daily interactions with residents, families and co-workers, but they have also set the new standard for excellence in senior care."

The awards, presented for seven different categories, included Leader of the Year, Manager of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Caregiver of the Year - Direct Care, Caregiver of the Year - Licensed, and Staff Member of the Year.

Leader of the Year: Gary Gardner, Senior Vice President of Special Projects, United Methodist Homes

The Leader of the Year award recognizes an individual with a history of exceptional leadership, who demonstrates an excellence in management and has made a significant positive impact on the field of aging within a member community. They must possess a distinguished record of service, dedication and foresight. Throughout Gary Gardner's nearly 20 years with United Methodist Homes, he has been instrumental in its growth and development as a voice of progress, stewardship and purpose. Not only has Gardner been a key element of its success, but his faithful dedication to serving the aging has also made a significant and positive impact to the field of senior care.

Manager of the Year: Renea Kreamer, Assisted Living Administrator, Green Ridge Village - Presbyterian Senior Living

This award is presented to an outstanding mentor who  has nurtured, coached, counseled and encouraged others in order to hep them develop personally and professionally. The stellar steam Renea Kreamer has created is a reflection of her steadfast leadership skills. Evidence of this work is that, for the past nine years, Green Ridge Village and its staff have consistently earned deficiency-free state surveys. She leads the staff by mentoring team members and encouraging them to live up to their potential, further their education and pursue their dreams.

Innovation of the Year: Youth Healthcare Institute, Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare

The Innovation of the Year award recognizes a program or service that is a model of innovation and excellence and that contributes significantly to the quality of life of individuals served. Recognizing the critical challenges senior care providers face with hiring and retaining a quality workforce, Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare created the Youth Healthcare Institute to show teens the array of rewarding career opportunities available in aging services. During the inaugural, three-day program in 2018, eight participants were exposed to a variety of experiences including hands on activities, tours, education and intergenerational sessions with residents. Based on the feedback and success of the initial program, Redstone's 2019 institute is expanding to offer a full week of learning opportunities for 20 students.

Volunteer of the Year: Catalina "Cathy" Zobel, Resident, Lima Estates - Acts Retirement-Life Communities

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes those who have enhanced the quality of life for seniors through volunteer work. They demonstrate an extraordinary commitment and dedication to preserving the dignity, well-being and independence of residents for their member organization or community. For the past 21 years that she has been a resident of Lima Estates, Cathy Zobel has enhanced the lives of residents and staff alike. Whether she is working as a comforting hospice volunteer, delivering mail or snacks to those with mobility issues, or sharing tips to remain as independent as possible - based on her experience as a certified occupational therapist, Zobel utilizes her gifts and abilities to serve others while always looking for opportunities to contribute to the world around her.

Caregiver of the Year - Direct Care: Julie Hurley, Certified Nursing Assistant, The Campus of the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg

The Caregiver of the Year - Direct Care Award recognizes those who serve as a model of compassionate care in a direct care capacity. They show a steadfast commitment to going beyond the call of duty to enhance and enrich the lives of seniors by providing exceptional service. After joining The Campus of the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg more than four years ago, Hurley quickly became an important and invaluable part of the daily life on campus. Every day she makes a difference in the lives of residents by offering a smile, words of encouragement or companionship. Oftentimes, she can found visiting resident or painting their nails after her workday is over. Currently devoting her talents to caring for those in the Guild - the memory support area of the campus - Hurley's compassion and heart go into all that she does.

Caregiver of the Year - Licensed: Jennifer Chace, Registered Nurse, Lima Estates - Acts Retirement-Life Communities

The Distinguished Service Award for Caregiver of the Year - Licensed, recognizes licensed staff who provide excellent clinical care while demonstrating leadership and a commitment to their field. Their exceptional service and dedication go beyond their duties related to the care of the elderly. The hallmark of Jennifer Chace's work is her caring approach while advocating for residents. Not only does she know each resident's needs, but she also knows how to navigate hurdles to care, which helps to achieve the healthiest solution for the resident. She goes out of her way to make sure every communication with primary caregivers and families is timely, comprehensive and comforting. Through all that she does, Chace creates an atmosphere of loving kindness, dignity and respect for employees, visitors and residents alike and is a model of exemplary caregiving.

Staff Member of the Year: Nora Vazquez, Housekeeper, Kirkland Village - Presbyterian Senior Living

The award for Staff Member of the Year honors an individual who has exhibited excellence within their role and enhanced their member organization through exceptional service to staff, residents and families. Their outstanding commitment to the elderly enriches the lives of residents and the community. Nora Vazquez understands the role of a servant leader extends beyond what the job requires and is built upon the many little moments of comfort, smiles, empathy and dedication. Since joining Kirkland Village in 2011, Vazquez has shown her commitment to her job and residents by training and mentoring new staff - doing all that she can to ensure they succeed. Her strong and enduring connections with residents make each one feel like they are family. Whether it is through a remembrance in prayer, a kind word shared, or an offer during a time of need, Nora's compassion and thoughtfulness are blessings in their lives.

"These honorees use their finite gifts of time and treasures with residents, families and co-workers, but, more importantly, they share their infinite gift of love to positively shape the field of aging services in Pennsylvania," noted Carey, recipient of a 2018 Distinguished Service Award.