Senior Commission Presents 2008 Report

Helen Peele and Linda Marron

Senior Commission Chairwoman Helen Bachelder-Peele presents the commission’s annual report, assisted by Commissioner Linda Marron. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Helen Bachelder-Peele, Chairwoman of the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission, gave the commission’s annual report at the March 25 Village Board meeting. The commission set four goals for itself, and has a number of objectives for each goal. Accessibility to municipal buildings tops the commission’s agenda for this year, as well as increasing awareness of mobility and accessibility issues with local businesses. Commissioners also would like to work to improve the health of Park Forest seniors.

The following is the complete text of the commission’s report as presented by Chairwoman Peele:

Good Evening Mayor Ostenburg and Board of Trustees. I am Helen Peele, the Chairwoman of the Park Forest Senior Citizen Advisory Commission. I would like to introduce the current Commissioners and report our activities to you for calendar year 2007.

Edwin Fizer, who has served since 1999 and is Vice-Chairman
Linda Marron
Nancy Labb
Evelyn Zawadzki
Louise Smith

Our Village Board Liaisons during the 2007 year were Kenneth Kramer and Mae Brandon. The staff liaison is Christine Blue, Director of the Park Forest Health Department.

The Senior Citizen Advisory Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the Village Board and Village Management on matters pertaining to older adults in the Village.

The Mission of the Advisory Commission is to be a clearinghouse for senior citizen resources and act as liaison between the senior population and the Village of Park Forest.

The Senior Commission will be nine (9) years old this September and of course we’ll be having a birthday party. The Commission has the potential for 9 members, with 3 people each filling a 3-year staggered term.

Meetings are now held on the first Thursday each month at 1:00 in the afternoon in the Nurses Plus Room in the Lower Level of Village Hall, unless indicated otherwise. Meetings end at 2:00 PM sharp, unless members are notified in advance to accommodate a program or other Commission business. We have found over the years that we can accomplish a lot in one precious hour if we come to a meeting prepared. All Park Forest residents are encouraged to attend these meetings. We usually have something profound, funny or both to say.


The following is a list of goals assigned to the commission as described in the resolution.

  1. Study issues of interest to and affecting seniors in the Village and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees when deemed appropriate.
  2. Assist the Village in presenting information and education to the public on matters relating to seniors living in the Village.
  3. Gather sufficient information to allow the Commission to serve as a clearinghouse for services available from various State and local agencies, public and private, for older adults of the village.
  4. Investigate recreation opportunities available specifically for older adults and seek out opportunities to disseminate this information to the older adults of the Village.

As requested by the Mayor, we wrote the following specific goals for the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

Increase accessibility to Municipal buildings
by December 2008

Purchase and install 4 automatic opening doors at Village Hall

Purchase and install 1 automatic opening door at Freedom Hall

Purchase and install 3 automatic opening doors at Public Safety Building

Increase awareness of mobility/accessibility issues with local businesses
TIMELINE: by June 2009

Develop a questionnaire/survey for local businesses regarding people with mobility handicaps in collaboration with Human Relations Commission and Economic Development Advisory Group.

Present finding to the Board and other interested groups

Install doorbells on local business entries in the Downtown

Investigate/obtain "Money Follows the Person" funding for the south suburban seniors as it is funded as a pilot program in the north and west Chicago regions

by December 2008

Schedule a speaker to explain details of the program to Commissioners and other interested people

Lobby elected representative, Mayors and Managers and Illinois Department on Aging to include southland in funding

Improve health of Park Forest Seniors
by December 2008

Develop targeted outreach to local seniors regarding the Ten Ton Challenge.

Produce the 4th annual Senior Fair (May 2008)

Create a Senior Prom (October 2008)

Conduct 3 meetings out in the community.


2007 was another year of turnover and change for the Senior Commission.

Commissioner William Shepherd resigned in June, and Commissioners Barbara Stephens and Sandra Turner Gwen Seibert resigned in December 2007. During the course of the year we had to cancel only two meetings, May and December. We did however participate in Youth Day as both observers and as cheerleaders.

Despite vacancies the remaining Commissioners demonstrated the kind of consistent energy that keeps this Commission viable. We eagerly wait to welcome the three new replacements to our wonderful Commission.

We had one of our meetings on a Saturday in February. In March we learned about Herbs for Fun, Relaxation and Healing from Maureen Chappell who is a very familiar vendor at the Park Forest Farmers’ Market. At the May meeting we were entertained by a woman who sells fashion hats.

One of our major achievements was co-sponsorship in the third annual Senior Fair on Friday, May 18, 2007. Once again we partnered with the Rotary Club of Park Forest and the Rich Township Senior Services to create a wonderful event day for local seniors. This is not just another Health Fair, although health-related organizations do participate. This is a Fair that recognizes that seniors are much more than physical entities and we are proud to have a travel agency, an automotive dealership, the Social Security Administration, the Illinois Theater Center, the Park Forest Public Library and a landscaping business who will distribute information about their businesses and award many raffle prizes. One of the favorite raffle prizes is a free cremation from the Cremation Society of Illinois. We are always told that there is no mandatory redemption time on that one. We also were delighted with Cathy Gervais and her line dancing troupe that performed some very lively steps for us. Please consider this your first formal invitation to join us for the 2008 annual Senior Fair, Friday, May 9, 2008, from 9 AM until 12 Noon. We have entertainment scheduled, a belly dancer from Na’ama Rose dance studio right here in downtown Park Forest.

As a result of the Third Annual Park Forest Senior Fair, we reserved a check for $1,000.00 to be used for a child health related project. The dollars from the 2008 Fair will be donated to the Village to pay for part of the automatic door project.

In June, July and August Senior Commissioners assisted in the distribution of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Coupons. Seven hundred of our fellow seniors participate in this program that is actually a subsidy to local small farmers; the seniors who qualify are definitely also beneficiaries. This program brought $14,700.00 to the Farmers Market to be spent by older people who need fresh fruit and vegetables.

After the coupons were distributed, we watched the Health Department change location and began meeting in Village Hall in August. This presented an accessibility problem for one of our Commissioners and we are very happy to hear that there will soon be automatic opening doors at Village Hall.

Once again, we took our show on the road to Garden House in September, Juniper Tower in October and Victory Centre in November. At all three of these meetings Rainer Zawadzki, a member of the Environment Conservation Commission and husband of Senior Commissioner Evelyn entertained all with feats of science magic. We always serve refreshments at these three meetings and have a little raffle of some kind to add to the fun of the event.

I want to take this moment to ask anyone who is interested in issues that affect senior citizens to come to one of our meetings. Anyone can attend the Senior Commission meetings; we start promptly at 1:00 PM at the Health Department meeting room unless announced in advance.

Community service is a rewarding endeavor so anyone who is interested in serving on this or any other Board or Commission should complete an application that is kept on file until a vacancy occurs. It is a small way that any resident can make our Village better and it is a lot of fun besides.

As a group, the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission and guests volunteered a total of 866 hours in a variety of activities. Of those hours, 252 were attributed to Commissioners and the remaining to guests and visitors.

The Commission decided to devote the calendar year 2008 to the topic of fun because we had some unfinished fun business leftover from 2007. Lest you think this is a frivolous topic, I remind you that the #1 problem facing older people is isolation and loneliness. I almost can’t wait to report to you next year because in addition to the Senior Fair, we are planning our first Senior Prom with the enthusiastic support of Garden House in Park Forest. The date for the Senior Prom is October 10, 2008 from 12 until 3 PM at Garden House and there will be food, music, dancing and plenty of well deserved smiles for everyone and you are all invited to attend.

Again, please save the date for this year’s Fair, Friday, May 9th , from 9 AM until noon. This is not a health fair but an all-aspects-of-a-wonderful-life fair. If you know a business that wants a real marketing opportunity, have them contact me, Chris Blue, Barry Klippenstein, Kitty Watson or Sally Fuhrmann for an application packet. This year’s Fair will be at the Rich Township Senior Center in beautiful downtown Park Forest.

In closing, we would like to thank the Village Board for this opportunity to be of service to our community. We Commissioners are ready, willing and able to continue our mission of helping other senior residents and of having another productive year. We appreciate your continued support.

Helen Bachelder-Peele, RN