Dr. Shirley Aaron
Tampa, Fla. – AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson today announced that a longtime Havana activist who pioneered an effective, innovative program helping Gadsden County families and students improve performance in school has received a new AARP award for outstanding community activists.
Winning the award for the Tallahassee and Northwest Florida area was Dr. Shirley Aaron. Dr. Aaron is the founder of the Interactive Community Action Network (I CAN) and I CAN TOO, a family literacy program.
These programs enlist volunteers, most of them older, to work directly with Gadsden County public-school students, coaching the family on how to help the student improve their school performance. Volunteers and families develop close relationships, and the program has dramatically improved student promotion to the next grade level and learning performance.
The Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus Community Trailblazer Awards were a highlight of AARP’s participation in the Florida Conference on Aging, the state’s largest gathering of organizations and individuals serving older Floridians, held Aug. 13-15 in Tampa.
Other Northwest Florida nominees for the program were:
- Donna Jacobi, M.D, Pensacola. Dr. Jacobi is a leading West Florida geriatrician who has served on advisory panels on long-term care for the state of Florida and also has played a leading role in establishing West Florida’s only Memory Disorder Clinic at West Florida Hospital.
- Lisa Bretz, Tallahassee, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging of North Florida. Ms. Bretz has been a leader in Tallahassee’s Dementia Care and Cure Initiative and founded the Tallahassee Coalition on Aging, a group of businesses and organizations involved in aging services in the capital city.
- Marianne Bono, Tallahassee. Ms. Bono, a longtime admissions nurse for Big Bend Hospice, has served in several volunteer roles in the community but is best known for her dedicated service to families and patients at Big Bend Hospice. She provided more than 70 hours of care for families and patients in 2017, as well as 23 hours of direct patient care at the hospice’s care center.
- Jean Gillingham, Panama City. Ms. Gillingham is a valued volunteer for Bay County’s AARP Chapter 1315, and has chaired the chapter’s Lap Robe project for 15 years. As part of a holiday season project, chapter members handcraft a lap robe for each resident of one area nursing home per year. Ms. Gillingham is an active AARP volunteer on other projects and activities as well.
- Jocelyn Fliger, Tallahassee. Director of Volunteers and Engagement at Elder Care Services in Tallahassee, Ms. Fliger was nominated for her outstanding service to Tallahassee-area seniors, her civic leadership on aging-related issues and her innovative approaches to addressing social isolation in rural areas of the Big Bend.
- Marg Wischmeier, Tallahassee. Ms. Wischmeier was nominated for her leadership and active engagement in activities at Allegro Senior Living in Tallahassee. At Allegro, Ms. Wischmeier leads the facility’s Garden Club, encourages other residents to get involved in gardening, serves on several of the facility’s committees, has helped lead cooking activities, played in the bell choir and performed in musical events.
- Miaisha Mitchell, Tallahassee. Currently serving as executive director of the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, Ms. Mitchell has been a longtime community leader in Tallahassee, active especially in healthy nutrition. She is a co-founder of the Tallahassee Food Network, which helped install 15 gardens in area neighborhoods, businesses, churches and schools. In collaboration with community allies, she helped develop the city’s Urban Youth Agricultural Program, which led to the city’s Dunn Street Youth Farm. She also has been highly active in interdisciplinary partnerships, helping to link Tallahassee university faculty, students and administrators with area nonprofits and communities.
To see all statewide recipients of the Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus Community Trailblazer Awards click here.
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