To celebrate and recognize extraordinary senior citizens, the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Area Agency on Aging hosted the 29th annual Older Americans Month Celebration Tea on May 22 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Prior to the event, nominations were made for various awards, including Senior Citizen of the Year, Caregiver of the Year and Older Worker of the Year, among others. Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is proud to announce that one of its staff members and two of its volunteers received special recognition and awards at the celebration.

Nancy Gordon, LVN, received the award for Older Worker of the Year. She has worked at VNHC for 20 years this August as a hospice nurse. Additionally, she volunteers her time at the Santa Barbara Humane Society, where she walks and trains dogs.

Gordon is also an accomplished artist and creates approximately 100 bowls for Empty Bowls Santa Barbara, a local nonprofit that supports the Santa Barbara Food Bank.

Through the VNHC Viagenco Project, where VNHC partners with and assists the Viagenco Comprehensive Care Clinic in Mbita, Kenya, Gordon also supports seven Kenyan students who are able to attend school, elementary through university, and she writes a note to each one of them monthly.

Senior Citizen of the Year was awarded to VNHC volunteer Ann Smithcors. She is a retired nurse and has been volunteering for VNHC patient care services for more than 30 years.

She has also served for many years at the Serenity House, and is a key volunteer for the Dream Foundation’s Flower Empower program, where she helps make bouquets — many of which go to VNHC patients — every Saturday at the Farmers Market in Santa Barbara.

Don Waters, a hospice and chaplain volunteer, was also acknowledged and received special recognition from the California Assembly as a nominee for the Senior Citizen of the Year. He has completed full hospice volunteer training and recently graduated from VNHC Chaplain Sam Geliâ‘s inaugural chaplaincy course.

He is a veteran of both the Navy and the Army and also is a retired nurse having worked for many years at Cottage Hospital. He is an invaluable resource to VNHC and often participates in the Veteran-to-Veteran pinning ceremonies that VNHC conducts as part of their We Honor Veterans program.

VNHC is proud to celebrate Older Americans Month each year, and particularly enjoyed sharing this yearâ‘s theme: “Unleash the Power of Age” with patients, families and the community. VNHC would like to thank the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens for hosting the Celebration Tea and recognizing one of its employees and two of its volunteers.

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is the leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive in-home health care. The mission of Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is to provide high quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay. It serves the greater Santa Barbara area, and Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys. Established in 1908, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is one of Santa Barbara’s oldest nonprofit organizations.

For more information on Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, click here or call 805.965.5555.

— Jennifer Guess is a publicist representing Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.