Aging Unbound is theme of Older Americans Month


Maureen Zacher-Bockius

Aging Unbound is theme

of Older Americans Month

May was the nation's observance of Older Americans Month. The 2023 theme is Aging Unbound and explores diverse aging experiences. Join us in thinking about aging – and how we all benefit when older adults remain engaged, independent, and included.

Exceptional individuals comprise the AAADSW Advisory Council. They are powerful advocates for seniors, adults with disabilities and family caregivers. Their expertise, passion and commitment are monumental. Their highly creative and collaborative approach allows them to get stuff done.

Our Advisory Council members:

• Identify needs of older adults and adults with disabilities and family caregivers in their communities;

• Advise on services to meet those needs and

• Advocate on behalf of the people they represent.

Laurel Waller-Wahkiakum

Laurel has 35 years experience working for Pacific Bell/AT&T and other major companies. Currently, Laurel owns and operates the Hotel Cathlamet and for the last six years, a member of the Cathlamet Town Council.

Laurel's volunteer activities include:

• Member of the Cathlamet's Woman's Club for the last six years.

• Assisting local business owners with grants, loans and other business requirements.

• Mentoring people interested in establishing a small business.

• Providing economical hotel rooms for people in need of a place to stay for recovery or emergency situations, including during the pandemic. Her hotel is a place for people to stay during freezing, sweltering and smoke-infused weather.

• As a town council member, she meets with Cathlamet citizens to discuss how to improve their community and address concerns.

April 2022, the Woman's Club held an Adopt a Highway event on State Route 4, mile markers 33-35. The weather was awesome, the camaraderie was great and the result amazing. Numerous trash bags were filled, leaving the highway sparkling clean. Laurel shared it felt good to clean up the environment. It positively impacted people passing by or entering their small town. It was a relief to get away from hotel chores, breathe fresh air and all without a phone in hand. Laurel counts it as one of her fondest memories of life in Cathlamet.

Marianne Burkholder-Wahkiakum

Before retirement, Marianne owned a commercial fishing business and is a practitioner of holistic healing through energy and breath.

Marianne's volunteer experiences include:

Cathlamet Woman's Club.

• Youth Mentor Program.

• Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of Southwest Washington Advisory Council.

• Hospice Volunteer.

Marianne's volunteer experiences include:

Cathlamet Woman's Club.

• Youth Mentor Program.

• Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of Southwest Washington Advisory Council.

• Hospice Volunteer.

Marianne enjoyed the one-to-one interaction and friendships developed through her volunteerism with the Youth Mentoring Program and Hospice Care. "It always feels good when you know you made a positive difference in someone's life," Marianne shared.

Maureen Zacher-Bockius-Wahkiakum

Maureen remained at home with her four children, until her youngest entered second grade. She then returned to work to support her family.

Maureen cares so much about what happens in her town. She is a board member for the Planning Commission, Shoreline and the Board of Equalization. Maureen has or currently serves on numerous boards to include the Fair Board for many years as well as the Library Trust Board, St. James Family Center, Kiwanis, Sons of Norway, Chamber of Commerce and the Woman's Club of Cathlamet and served as an officer with some of these organizations.

Maureen secured $30,000 of funding from FEMA for windows for the Pioneer Church. The church sat empty for years, but recently re-opened as a mixed use venue for the community.

In addition to lowering the property taxes for the residents of Puget Island while on the Board of Equalization, one of the achievements she is most proud of is working with the county engineer to number every property in the county. Until that time, some houses had numbers and some did not so the fire department and ambulance needed numbers on all of the houses. She did this volunteer work through the Woman's Club of Cathlamet.

Maureen loves being involved with these organizations. During her tenure as a chamber member, Bald Eagle Days and the Crab Feed were started over 30 years ago. Both events are still going strong. Maureen was the parade chairman for about 10 years and head of the Crab Feed.

Pearl Blackburn-Wahkiakum

Served in the United States Air Force for 11 years, last post Bitburg AB, Germany as the Base Engine Manager for F-16 jet engines and the US Navy Reserve for two years. Her career in health insurance began with customer service, liaison leading to management of health maintenance plans (HMO).

Pearl is a lifelong volunteer. Her mother, Betty, would suggest how to help, for example, by raking a neighbor's leaves. Pearl's current volunteerism includes Advisory Council member for the Area Agency on Aging & Disability of Southwest Washington for the last four years.

Current Vice President of the Cathlamet Woman's Club, member for past six years. The club has been serving the community for over 90 years.

The Ambassador for Dress a Girl Around the World for Oregon/Washington state for five years providing new home-made dresses to girls around the world, with an average of 1000 dresses collected each year and distributed by missionaries, called Traveling Dresses of Love.

Pearl encourages and mentors others to develop leadership skills and to work together to make this world a better place. Pearl thinks out of the box and frequently conceives and implements fun initiatives that build community and fellowship.

Last year a local reporter issued a "Pie Baking Challenge" at the Wahkiakum County Fair because there were not enough pie bakers in the community. The annual "Pie Social" sold out of pies within 15 minutes. The Cathlamet Woman's Club created flyers and sign-in sheets to accept the challenge. They assembled 100 pie baking kits with the instructions, date and time to turn in pies to the fair, complete with a small pie pan. They distributed 80 kits to 4-H groups, Senior Citizen groups and at local shops on Main street. Twenty-four people entered pies into the fair with four pie winners.

Ron Wright-Wahkiakum

Ron is a retired teacher, principal and CTE director. Currently he volunteers in Naselle-GRV and Wahkiakum school districts. Ron encourages the transition of public education from the 1830's Boston industrial model to the 21st Century team-based creative problem solver model.

Currently Ron is using the teaching of engineering via robotics K-12 in both school districts to help with this goal.

Ron's Volunteerism includes:

• Robotics Club advisor for both Naselle HS and Wahkiakum HS.

• Unofficial mentor to HS and MS robotics engineering teachers in both districts.

• Unofficial advisor to K-5 robotics implementation in both districts.

• Wahkiakum Amateur Radio Club member.

• Assisted the Lions Club with food drives during height of covid.

• Wahkiakum SD Bond and Levy planning team member.

• Wahkiakum SD Lawsuit advisory team member.

Laurel Waller

Ron shared, "I began volunteering several years ago when I realized that I have been blessed with a relatively good life and that I know a thing or two about a few things. It is my obligation and privilege to give back as best I can..." as my way to say "thank you" for being so blessed."

Recently Ron was working with a small group of homeschool students to assist them in learning coding using robots. About halfway through the two-hour session, the kids were totally absorbed in solving the challenge he gave them. Ron indicated, "their engaged excitement was tangible. That feeling – that these kids were into what they were doing, didn't need me to keep going, and that I had helped them to have that experience is exactly what keeps me going."


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