By Ben Tinsley
FORT WORTH — Hedy Collins received a prestigious award Sept. 25 for her superlative work keeping seniors active, engaged, and involved in life.
The award was bestowed on Collins before a packed lunchtime audience at the Senior Spirit Awards Luncheon at Fort Worth’s Cendera Center.
The Senior Spirit Awards are sponsored by Senior Citizens Services, which empowers “older adults throughout Tarrant County to live with purpose, independence and dignity.” Those who support this mission are honored annually.
Collins, director of the Senior Program for Jewish Family Services, was introduced to the audience by Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Beth-El Congregation. He praised her years of work coordinating that program.
Many of Collins’ elderly charges are refugees from Russia, and through this program she has encouraged them to find new friends, empowered them to improve their health with nutrition and exercise, and urged them to learn English and contribute to their community through volunteer service, Rabbi Mecklenburger said.
Collins also arranged the van shuttle that ferries the seniors back and forth to prevent them from becoming isolated.
Her award specifically recognizes Collins’ innovative approaches in improving the health and independence of older adults.
“She goes above and behind every day to serve older adults who otherwise might stay at home isolated from the world,” Mecklenburger said.
Funded totally by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, this senior program involves scheduled activities, games, daily lunches and occasional field trips.
The program is held at Beth-El Congregation’s Great Hall for socialization. Some participants come every day and others a few times a week. Transportation is offered to limited locations at no charge.
Accepting her award to warm applause, Collins took the time to thank those who contributed to her successful work – including Senior Citizens Services, her staff, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Rabbi Mecklenburger, and Congregation Beth-El.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and a village to see them to adulthood – and a village to make sure seniorhood is dignified and respectful,” she said.
Collins was one of four honored that day during a special presentation. John McCaa, news anchor for WFAA-TV, was master of ceremonies.
Her fellow awardees include Gary Fickes, Precinct 3 Tarrant County Commissioner who received the Carlton Lancaster Legacy Award; J. Howard Davis, who received the Evelyn Siegel Vision Award; and Haltom City, which received the Mae Cora Peterson Healthy Aging Award.