Volunteers who went “above and beyond” for Central Oregon older adults include a Meals on Wheels driver who delivered meals during a snowstorm, a woman who fields hundreds of calls for help understanding Medicare health benefits, and a “Legacy Award” winner with decades of community service.

Bend, Ore., July 31, 2019 – During the historic snowstorm of February 2019, Robert Bennett was delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors in La Pine when he slipped on ice and fell underneath his pick-up truck. He found himself trapped and had to call 911 for emergency responders to dig him out. But nothing comes between a dedicated volunteer and their mission. As soon as Bennett was free, he carried on along his route to make sure isolated older adults had a nutritious meal to eat and weren’t forgotten during the days-long storm.

Bennett was among the dozens of volunteers honored at a recent recognition event hosted by the Council on Aging of Central Oregon. He was one of the winners of the “Volunteer of the Year” award, along with Sylvia Peterson, who fields hundreds of calls to the Council on Aging from Medicare beneficiaries seeking assistance from volunteer counselors to understand their Medicare options. Peterson was nominated for her ability to “masterfully juggle” the counseling schedules for the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program, while remaining “upbeat” and retaining a “wicked sense of humor.”

“The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to the organization through their volunteer service,” said Executive Director Susan Rotella during the June 4 event. “Nominees have provided an exceptional level of support, activity, commitment and leadership over an extended period of time.”

The 2019 “Legacy” award honored Doug Sunseth, who has spent decades supporting older adults in Central Oregon. Sunseth is an experienced Meals on Wheels driver and former coordinator who frequently stepped in to substitute for other drivers when needed.

“The Legacy Award honors an individual for a significant, long-term contribution that has helped enrich the lives of older adults in Central Oregon,” said Kathy Schroeder, the Council on Aging deputy director of donor engagement. “Doug has been selfless in his dedication to our older adult clients, advocating on their behalf, and giving tirelessly to others to ensure their safety and well-being.”

The Council on Aging is grateful for its more than 400 volunteers across Central Oregon in various service areas, including Meals on Wheels meal delivery to homebound seniors, Medicare counseling, administrative support, social lunches and community events. For more information about the volunteer opportunities with the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, visit www.councilonaging.org/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities/.

News and resources for older adults and their caregivers can be found on the Council on Aging’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CouncilOnAgingOfCentralOregon or the organization’s website, www.councilonaging.org.


About the Council on Aging of Central Oregon

Since 1975, the Council on Aging has served as the designated Area Agency on Aging for Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties, offering adults aged 60 and older and their loved ones a range of support services. A non-profit organization, the Council on Aging advocates for, empowers and guides older adults and their loved ones to live with independence and well-being in age-friendly communities—places where infrastructure, policies and practices are developed to make the community livable, accessible and responsive to the needs of people of all ages, especially older adults.

Phone: (541) 678-5483
Website: www.councilonaging.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CouncilOnAgingOfCentralOregon

Media Contact
Emily Burnham
Strategic communications and public relations manager
Council on Aging of Central Oregon
(541) 678-5483