Kay Lavelle of Austintown is joining roughly 400 Ohio seniors who were inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of
Fame in Columbus. She was among a dozen inductees for 2014.
''The Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame recognizes the important roles that our elders can play when they continue to grow, thrive and contribute throughout their lives,'' said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging. ''True Golden Buckeyes are not defined by their age, they are inspired by it.''
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Kay Lavelle of Austintown was ready to serve up some delicious pie last week as she staffs the kitchen at the Austintown Senior Center as one of her many hats she wears. She was recently inducted into the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in Columbus as one of a few outstanding Ohio seniors.
For more than 30 years, Lavelle had served as a full time Mahoning County Deputy Sheriff. It was when she retired from that position that she really went to work.
''I retired in 2006,'' she said. ''Then I got bored and went back to serve as a reserve deputy.''
In her new role, she was named coordinator of the Senior Services Unit, which she founded. That position has blossomed as she became program director at the Austintown Senior Center, where her office is now located. From there, she serves the entire county and watches out for its aging population, and she runs the kitchen at the Senior Center as well.
Her big mission is to fill in the gaps between available services in the county. She works with Adult Protective Services, the Youngstown Rescue Mission, Help Hotline Crisis Center, Area Agency on Aging and home care providers to accomplish her mission.
She also has founded the Mahoning Adult Protection Network and has established the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office Senior Fair that is now in its sixth year.
Her program to have law enforcement officers checking in on the elderly has spread across Mahoning County. She said it is important for shut-in seniors to have a visitor keep watch on their welfare. Last week at the Canfield City Council meeting, Mayor Bernie Kosar publically mentioned Lavelle's induction honors and said her program has helped in Canfield.
''We have 10 elderly residents our officers check on regularly,'' Kosar said. ''We actually got their names through Lavelle's program.''
He explained that a senior submits an application to the Sheriff's Office, and then they are qualified for the program. In Canfield, the Sheriff forwards the names of Canfield seniors and the Canfield Police routinely check on them.
Lavelle continues to work hard for seniors every day. When she was notified of the induction into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, she said it was not expected, but was welcomed.
''I was surprised,'' she said. ''It's really not about me, but it does give me the opportunity to speak on senior issues. This will give me a chance to bring to light the many high risk seniors we have in Ohio before it is too late. This award gives me the platform into addressing the situation.''