ALBANY— As part of Older New Yorkers Day at the State Capitol, Endwell resident Jo Ann Freer was named by the NYS Office for Aging as the 2017 Older Volunteer of the Year. Freer was honored at a celebration at the Hart Theater, and recognized with a Proclamation by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. She was nominated for the honor by the Broome County Office for Aging.
“Jo Ann Freer volunteerism stood out from the dozens of nominations received from across the state,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging. “We are working at the state level to ensure that seniors have access to important programs and services, as well as to create new opportunities for an aging population that is more active and involved in their community than ever before. Jo Ann embodies these efforts and is continuously working to enrich the lives of her neighbors.”
“Since 2000, JoAnn has always been willing to give of herself in order to serve others within our community,” said Jamie Kelly, Director of the Broome County Office for Aging. Her selfless acts of volunteerism continue to have a positive impact on many Broome County seniors. We are truly grateful to JoAnn for all she has done, and continues to do, for our community.”
Freer, who lives in Endwell with her husband of 53 years, began volunteering at the age of 12 by collecting neighborhood donations for the American Red Cross. Since then, she has been involved in at least one volunteer opportunity at all times. When she moved to Broome County in 2000, Jo Ann began serving as a Tax Counselor for the AARP Tax Aide Program and then became a site coordinator, supervising 50 counselors at 7 preparation sites. In 2005, she helped develop the Social Connection for Senior Women, a program designed to gather isolated women in small groups for friendship and socialization. She served on the Office for Aging Advisory Council for six years and helped create the Positive Aging Academy, a workshop for creating the best life in a person’s ‘later years.’ She also worked to create the Downsize and Declutter Discussion, an ongoing monthly group designed to help seniors get rid of unwanted or unneeded items and help them learn to create new purpose in their lives. She has also served the Unitarian Universalist Church as chair of several committees and currently offers Seasonal Grace, a mini retreat for the refreshment of her own and others’ daily lives.