From left to right: Paula Basta, Felicia Voelkel, Michele Suwe and Joy Paeth.GLEN CARBON - The Glen Carbon Senior and Community Center was recognized by the Illinois Department of Aging for their work in serving older community members.

On Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, Department of Aging Director Paula Basta presented the center with the 2023 Governor’s Engaging Aging Award. The center, located at 157 N. Main Street in Glen Carbon, is one of up to 13 organizations to be recognized this year.

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“This award is presented annually to a handful of community organizations throughout the state where you have gone above and beyond making a positive impact on the lives of older adults, and you can see that right here in this room,” Basta said. “You have a vibrant hub of programming. You have events, activities, social engagement. I heard there was belly dancing — I don’t know when, but I’m going to get out of here before that.”

Basta noted the various programs and activities offered at the center, including yoga, art classes, bingo, bridge and various senior groups with almost 50 active members. The center also offers transportation services, which is a popular resource for community members.

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Felicia Voelkel, the center’s administrator, accepted the award and thanked the staff and community members who are at the center every day. Voelkel took on the administrator role in October 2022. This will be the second time she has been part of a team that won the Engaging Aging Award.

“It feels really great. I’m very proud,” Voelkel said. “Honestly, I feel like I found where I belong. It’s fun. Every day is a little different. The folks I work with are just wonderful.”

Joy Paeth, CEO for AgeSmart Community Resources, nominated the center and was also there to congratulate them. During Basta’s presentation speech, she recognized previous administrator Michele Suwe and the community members who take part of the center’s programming.

“Your senior center was acknowledged that this was an award that you all deserve,” Basta added. “I want to make sure that today we acknowledge and thank all of the staff here, but really acknowledge and thank all of you for being here, getting back out again, enjoying the holiday lunches, the activities, all the things that happen here every single day that keep us engaged and healthy and well.”

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