National Family Caregivers Month Kicks Off with Surprise Award Recognition
AMERICUS, GEORGIA – The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI) and Seniorlink today announced the winners of the 2021 Georgia Caregivers of the Year Awards. Lynn Platt is the Family Caregiver of the Year; Ellen Criswell is the Volunteer Caregiver of the Year; and Katherine Weaver is the Para-professional Caregiver of the Year. Each of the winners was recognized this week with a drive-by celebration where they received a gilded rose, a citation signed by RCI Founder and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and a check for $1,000, thanks to the continued support and sponsorship of Seniorlink.
This annual recognition comes at the start of November’s National Family Caregivers Month, a nationwide celebration of the men and women who support individuals in need of care.
“The Georgia Caregivers of the Year celebration is an opportunity for us to recognize the tremendous contributions of caregivers to our health care system, our economy, and our communities. Our three winners are strong, resilient, inspiring individuals who consistently put the needs of the people they care for first, and their stories are representative of the experiences of the more than 53 million caregivers in America,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Chief Executive Officer at RCI. “But at the same time that we thank and celebrate individual caregivers, we must continue to advocate for better services, support, and responsive policies for all caregivers. Caregivers are at a breaking point, and we must do better to understand and prioritize their well-being.”
This is the second year of sponsorship by Seniorlink, a tech-enabled health services company focused on keeping care in the home where family caregivers play a pivotal role.
“Congratulations to Lynn, Ellen, and Katherine, the incredible 2021 Georgia Caregivers of the Year, and to all of this year’s nominees, each of whom are deserving of our appreciation and recognition,” said Lisa Bennett, Regional Director, Community Partnerships, Seniorlink. “The team at Seniorlink is so proud to sponsor this event and support caregivers around the country in as many ways as we can.”
MEET THE GEORGIA CAREGIVERS OF THE YEAR
Family Caregiver of the Year Lynn Platt has devoted her life to caring for others. She has been a caregiver to her uncle, who was born with special needs, since she was only 18 years old. His needs, wants, and interests have been her priority ever since, and she spends a tremendous amount of time and money to provide him with the best possible care.
Platt is a professional caregiver, as well. She is the director of the Senior Center in Pierce County and, throughout the pandemic, has maintained a constant line of contact to her clients at a time when many were feeling isolated and anxious. She expanded her caregiving knowledge and skills through RCI’s Dealing with Dementia Course, becoming a certified trainer, and has participated in many other Georgia Division of Aging Services and Meals-On-Wheels trainings. She is also an active member of the Southern Georgia Care-Net coalition.
“To those who know Lynn, her energy seems boundless. Through all of the stress that comes along with being a caregiver, Lynn has still maintained a servant’s heart and deep commitment to care for others,” said Scott Courson, Director of Aging Services, Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging.
Volunteer Caregiver of the Year Ellen Criswell runs a business called Rob’s Place, a day program for adults with disabilities. Criswell started Rob’s Place to enhance the dignity and independence of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. During the pandemic, she went above and beyond, opening her doors to welcome the Anchor of Hope Foundation for a monthly Parent’s Night Out, a respite opportunity for parents of children with developmental disabilities. Parents drop their kids and siblings off with Anchor of Hope staff and volunteers for three hours to get some much-needed respite.
“Her program is helping countless families in the area to get the care their children need,” Carrie Owen, executive director of Anchor of Hope, wrote in her nomination form. “Ellen has a heart of gold, and her hard work is allowing families in middle Georgia to have a place to turn to when other doors are closed.”
Para-professional Caregiver of the Year Katherine Weaver is a social worker at the Winder Health Care and Rehabilitation facility who consistently refers clients to the Nursing Home Transition (NHT) and Community Transition programs, supporting families in their efforts to stay in home- and community-based settings. She is a former Social Worker of the Year, named in 2019 by Northeast Georgia Regional Commission-Area Agency on Aging.
“Katherine has been able to recognize and motivate the full potentials in her consumers while remaining person-centered,” Katrina Ogbe of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission wrote in the nomination. “She has been known to follow up with every consumer who leaves and even visit with several after discharge.”
About RCI: The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers promotes the health, strength, and resilience of caregivers throughout the United States. Established in 1987 by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the Institute’s priority is the unpaid family caregiver: those individuals who care for a relative, friend or loved one. To learn more about RCI, its advocacy, how to participate in programs or build a partnership, visit www.rosalynncarter.org.