Hartford HealthCare and CarePartners of Connecticut have joined forces on a new program focused on celebrating seniors and their resiliency during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The awards program, A Celebration of Seniors, honored three Connecticut residents for their work in the community over the last year.

“The pandemic has and continues to leave an indelible mark on our communities, and in particular older generations, who have been the hardest hit by this terrible virus,” said Marla Pantano, president of CarePartners of Connecticut. “Despite this, these three honorees have shown us what is possible, even in the face of adversity. They are beacons of hope in a changing world and serve as role models for all around them.”

The awards program focused on three areas:

  • Creativity: Develops and works on unique talents to make his or her life more fulfilling, and joyfully shares this with others.
  • Volunteerism: Unselfishly gives his or her own time to improve the quality of life of others, through individual or group activity.
  • Fitness: Is a role model for health, vitality and wellbeing- overcoming any barriers posed by age or physical condition.

This year’s honorees:

Creativity: Diane Soares, Wallingford Senior Center

Soares, above, has been a creative member in her community since 2017. She is founder and instructor of A.G.E. (Aging Gracefully Essentials), T.A.B.s (Therapeutic Art Boards) and Crafters’ Corner. A.G.E. meets monthly and helps address the aging needs of Connecticut residents on topics such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and more. T.A.B.s members assemble clip art and scraps to create collages. Crafters’ Corner meets weekly, working on a variety of projects and crafts. Throughout all of her programs, Soares encourages a safe, non-judgmental environment along with mindfulness and meditation.

Fitness: LeAnn Kroll, Southington Calendar House

During the height of the pandemic, Kroll offered virtual exercise classes. Kroll began teaching exercise classes at Southington Calendar House before she was eligible to join. She has been a fitness instructor since 2014 and a member of the fitness community since January 2020. Kroll is dedicated to her role, and willing to do all things necessary to make sure the community is well served.

Volunteerism: Elizabeth Thomas, Windsor Senior Center

Thomas has volunteered at the Windsor Senior Center since the fall of 2017. She is the instructor for Windsor Senior Center’s SCRIBE Writing Workshop. When the pandemic hit, she began offering the class via Zoom. Aside from her volunteer work at the Windsor Senior Center, Thomas is also an arts educator to students of all ages.

She has taught in Hartford schools and is a master teaching artist for the Connecticut Commission of the Arts and the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts. Her students have participated in the Senior Center’s Variety Show and have held special readings during the holidays. She is the author of two poetry books: “Full Circle” and “From the Front of the Classroom.”

More information about the winners and the nominees can be found on the Hartford HealthCare Senior Services Celebration of Seniors page (here) and Facebook.