New director takes helm of Grand County Council on Aging
December 18, 2007
Sharon Schoenberger began her new job at the Grand County Council on Aging office in the Granby Community Center on Monday.
By noon, her day had entailed confirming seven van rides for seniors, fielding a complaint about the choice of menu that day and walking about the senior luncheon room, introducing herself to those who sat at around its tables.
Schoenberger said she felt fortunate to have found the position.
“It’s what I’ve done almost my whole career,” she said. “I love working with seniors; it’s what is my passion.”
Schoenberger and her husband Ron moved to greater Granby two years ago from a suburb of Chicago. They hoped to find a slower pace of life in rural Grand Count, where their son had already relocated.
“My husband and I love to hike. We’ve done a lot of that since we moved out here. And I like to read and do needlework, a hobby of mine,” she said. “We enjoy seeing the wildlife and are amazed at the animals we’ve seen at our own home, a moose right outside of our door.”
In Clarendon Hills, Ill., Schoenberger had worked 30 years in the nonprofit social services sector, working in community services at neighboring Hinsdale.
For 14 years, she was the senior services coordinator making sure seniors had transportation lined up, Meals on Wheels, Home Health Care, housekeeping and personal care assistance. She also offered seniors direction by way of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
The Illinois transplant has a bachelor of science in social work and is a licensed social worker in the state of Illinois.
“We’re very pleased she’s going to be our coordinator,” said Bob Bielenberg, president of the Grand Council on Aging Board of Directors.
“Everything looks forward looking ahead. We just feel she has the competence, experience, and personality to do a very good job for us.”
The Grand County Council on Aging board voted unanimously last month to offer Schoenberger the position.
The council was in the news this past year for perceived problems in management.
“What I hope to bring is a fresh perspective,” Schoenberger said. “I haven’t lived here a long time, so I have no preconceived notions about the way things were or the way things could have gone. It’s a fresh start for everyone.
“I hope to foster a spirit of cooperation,” she said.
The Grand County Council on Aging, a nonprofit organization established in 1974, provides senior and disabled services that include programs and free transportation to and from meals and to recreational events.
Schoenberger said she hopes to build on the foundation already laid, and eventually expand programs offered if seniors and others who participate show interest.
Although she finds fulfillment in helping others, she said, seniors have a lot to offer.
“I really value their life experiences and have learned a lot from them,” she said.
“One of my seniors back in Clarendon Hills was a Jewish lady who we’d come to find out was in one of the labor camps in World War II ” she had so many experiences to share,” she said.
“In some societies, such as in Eastern cultures, seniors are more revered. Families routinely look after them, bring them into their homes and value the elderly. In our culture, seniors are not as valued as they should be,” she said.
“They have a lot to give and a lot of worthwhile experiences we can learn from,” she said.
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