NEW YORK (WWTI) – The New York State Office for the Aging recently honored 94 older adults throughout the state for volunteerism as part of the office’s annual Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration.

Awardees were nominated by New York’s network of 59 county-based Area Agencies on Aging.

Older New Yorkers age 55 and over contribute more than 495 million hours of volunteer service each year, a value of $13.8 billion, according to the New York State Office for the Aging.

Seniors from Lewis County and St. Lawrence County were honored this year: Arlene Ernst, Pauline Lehman, Myrtle Regan and Brenda Sanderson. Their awardee profiles are highlighted below.

Arlene Ernst

“Arlene Ernst is more than willing to step up whenever there is a need in her community. If someone needs meals delivered after undergoing surgery, or has experienced a death in the family, Ernst is always there to help.”

“Ernst was born in Rome, New York. Her family owned a cheese factory where she learned about hard work and neighborliness. Ernst married and relocated to West Leyden where she has lived ever since.”

“Ernst believes that it is important to lend a helping hand ‘because you never know if you
might need help down the road,’ she says.”

Older New Yorkers’ Day program book, page 45

Pauline Lehman

“Pauline Lehman goes above and beyond in her weekly volunteer efforts through the Lewis County Office for the Aging, answering phones and working on a variety of projects. ‘She is a wonderful asset to our Office for the Aging family, and her willingness to help out whenever she can doesn’t go unnoticed,’ say her nominators for Older New Yorkers’ Day.”

“Lehman is also heavily involved in her local church, serving on committees, councils, and
pursuing many other opportunities for service. She also volunteers for Lewis County General Hospital.”

“Lehman has lived in Croghan her entire life. She has eight children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.”

“Volunteering is necessary because it gives you something to do after you retire,’ she says. ‘It helps to get you out of your house and you are able to meet and interact with so many wonderful people.”

Older New Yorkers’ Day program book, page 46

Myrtle Regan

“Myrtle Regan has been a volunteer for all of her adult life. She enjoys providing assistance at the Maplewood Nursing Home in the activities room and driving older adults in her community who need a ride to appointments. Regan is a member of the County Council of Senior Citizens, Dekalb Jct. United Methodist Church, the Methodist Church in Canton, and the Canton Senior Citizens Club. Since 2007, she has been president of the Canton Senior Citizens, which is the largest active senior citizen club in St. Lawrence County. She has escorted hundreds of older adults on many bus trips that she has organized, taking them to over 50 states, as well as Ireland, Australia, and Canada.”

“Regan has lived in New York State all of her life – for the past 51 years in Canton with
her husband, Francis, until he passed away in 2021. She has a son living in Texas. Regan graduated from Hermon-Dekalb Schools. She was employed for over 30 years with the village of Canton as the deputy village clerk for six years and retired from a role as dispatcher and a matron with the Canton Village Police Department.”

“Regan is described by individuals as a doer and a leader who gives tirelessly of her time and talents. When asked why it is important to volunteer, she says: ‘Everyone should volunteer; it is always a joy and gives you satisfaction of knowing you are helping.”

“St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging is pleased to honor Myrtle for Older New Yorkers’ Day,’ says her nomination. ‘Myrtle is a fierce advocate for older adults and is passionate about helping to improve the lives of others. Myrtle has lived her life in service to others and we are so grateful for her efforts.”

Older New Yorkers’ Day program book, page 80

Brenda Sanderson

“Brenda Sanderson has been a volunteer for over 20 years, participating in several
groups to help her community. She was a member of the Hermon-Dekalb School Board,
Hermon Library Board of Trustees and was a den mother for the Boy Scouts when her
sons were younger.”

“Sanderson is the current president of the Dekalb Jct. Senior Citizens Club. She has been
president of the County Council of Senior Citizens since 2018. In her first year as president, Sanderson visited all of the individual senior clubs to learn more about them. She is also an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.”

“Sanderson has resided in New York State all of her life. She was married for 51 years to
the love of her life, William, until his passing. She has three sons, five grandchildren, and
one great-grandchild. She also had a son who passed away. She started her career as
an X-ray technician. After having children, she became a teacher’s aide with BOCES and
then a bank teller before her retirement.”

“Described by individuals as kind and generous, she is a friend to all, very humble, and
willing to lend a hand when needed.”

“When asked why it is important to volunteer, Sanderson stated: ‘If you see a need, there
is no reason you can’t step up and help if able.”

“St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging is thrilled to honor Brenda,’ says her nomination for Older New Yorkers’ Day. ‘She has worked tirelessly as the County Council of Senior Citizens president to create a collaborative and friendly environment amongst all the senior clubs for activities and social events. The council has flourished under her leadership.”

-Older New Yorkers’ Day program book, page 81

View the Older New Yorkers’ Day program award book

The full program book is available on NYSOFA’s website and includes profiles of all awardees and the event is currently available to watch on NYSOFA’s YouTube channel.