Springfield – A Peoria woman was celebrated Tuesday by the Illinois General Assembly and Senate for her lifetime of work in support of the aging population in Illinois.
Mary Patton, 82, was surprised with the reading and copy of the honorary resolution, HB 0130 introduced by Rep. Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) and co-sponsored by 10 additional representatives before it was adopted.
She was recognized minutes later on the Senate floor with a proclamation read by Sen. David Koehler, (R-Peoria), which received enthusiastic applause from lawmakers.
“Patton is an outspoken champion on policies regarding elder abuse and financial exploitation,” Gordon-Booth said. “She believes in empowering all citizens to raise their voices to make a difference.”
Patton, 82, is a former teacher and Peoria County circuit clerk, and also a longtime AARP Illinois advocacy volunteer. She has served as an AARP Illinois lobbyist for 20 years while representing Peoria County and AARP as a member of the Peoria County Human Services Transportation Plan Steering Committee at TRI-CO Regional Planning Commission.
“Mary’s dedication to improving the lives of people 50 plus has been an inspiration to us and to everyone she has come across while lobbying on behalf of AARP,” said AARP State Director Bob Gallo. “I doubt there’s a longtime legislator in Illinois who hasn’t been approached and called to action by her persuasive words and knowing smile.”
During the reading of the resolution, Gordon-Booth invited legislators to recount fond memories of their encounters with Patton in the halls of the Capitol.
Rep. Mike Unes, (R-East Peoria) said as a lifelong Peoria resident, he had early memories of Patton standing up for students at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, which he attended along with her children. Years later, he encountered Patton again when he was elected to office. He immediately recognized her passion and voice.
“I was just amazed with how much she continued to know the facts, know the representatives, know her way around Springfield,” Unes said. “Her whole life is dedicated to things that she believes in, that she goes after. She’s just such a passionate, quality person, it’s really inspiring.”
Patton did not know in advance that she was being recognized during Tuesday’s sessions of the General Assembly and Senate. She thought she was visiting the Capitol along with 38 volunteers for AARP who were in Springfield for a three-day training on how to lobby for issues of importance to those 50+ and their families.
“I really, believe me, am speechless, and the people who know me can’t believe that,” Patton said. “I’d sat in that gallery for 20 years and that never happened before…you know I don’t do it for any of that stuff I just love it Everyone’s become a friend. The legislators are all hard working and sometimes I make their job easier — and sometimes I make it harder.”
For more information on how to volunteer with AARP Illinois, contact Ellen Acevedo, Associate State Director of Volunteer Engagement and Mobilization at 312-458-3626, or email@example.com
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities.
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