‘Unleashing the Power of Age’

Our nation’s senior citizens, or “older Americans” to use the more politically correct term, are changing the world — in small ways and big ways — every day.

These men and women are contributing in a variety of ways, from helping to raise their grandchildren and serving as elected leaders, to donating their time to local charities, and volunteering as emergency responders. The list of their efforts really is endless.

Each year in May, the contributions of these elder members of our society are highlighted and celebrated. Older Americans Month is “a month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions to local communities.”

Through the U.S. Department of Health and Humane Services and the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington, a local resident is one of those people being highlighted for her ability to “Unleash the Power of Age.”

Washougal resident Bessie Jarrel serves lunch to seniors at the Washougal Community Center every week through The Meals on Wheels People program.

Wanda Nelson, center manager, described Jarrel as “an incredible woman,” who is reliable and hard working — qualities that are greatly appreciated in a volunteer. Jarrel performs a service, but she gives so much more.

“She has spent her life serving others,” Nelson said. “She volunteers for us two days a week and is always willing to come in when needed. Her kindness extends to everyone. She is gentle and would help anyone in need.”

Jarrel and other older Americans are making local communities better places to live. And many of them are doing this work as volunteers, with no payment or compensation to speak of. They do it simply because they care.