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Published December 25th, 2019
Lamorinda Village honors its volunteer members
Lafayette mayor Mike Anderson presents proclamation to Helen Gough with Don Jenkins. Photo provided

More than 50 Lamorinda Village members, volunteers and donors gathered Dec. 13 to recognize the dedication of a few of its tireless volunteers who help facilitate services to members with the desire to age in place.
Founded five years ago by Ruth McCahan, Lamorinda Village now has 50 active volunteers serving 120 members, offering support in myriad ways: driving members to appointments, preparing meals, helping with computers or office tasks, making household repairs, or simply calling or visiting a member. Drivers are trained through Mobility Matters, ensuring the safe transport of members.
Lamorinda Village president Larry Toy said he and his wife joined the Village five years ago. "We were in our 60s at the time, and we thought it was a good idea to stay in the home [as we age] and support the effort not to go somewhere else." Toy began attending the monthly men's coffee meetings, and then became involved with the board.
The "Afternoon of Gratitude" event, held in the fellowship hall at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, underscored the sense of community. The church provides a small office and its fellowship hall for Lamorinda Village to use free of charge, but the organization has no religious affiliation. "I'm very proud of the turnout today of the members, the volunteers and the donors," McCahan said. "It works; it just takes time."
Toy explained that the most important aspect of Lamorinda Village is to alleviate social isolation, since members may have friends who are gone, or they may have worked and, once retired, need to reconnect to their community. "Holding events like this can break this social isolation," he said.
Students led by Acalanes High School Choral Music Director Bruce Langacher performed several holiday songs at the event, and Lafayette Mayor Mike Anderson presented a proclamation to Lafayette resident Helen Gough, the recipient of the Ed Stokes/Lamorinda Village Community Service Award, stating, "Today is Helen Gough Day in the city of Lafayette."
The Community Service Award is in honor of the late Ed Stokes, who was well known in the Lamorinda community for his philanthropy, and was an inspiration to founding member Don Jenkins, who presented the award. "Volunteers are the heart of this organization. Helen Gough has been with Lamorinda Village since day one and does everything in the office," Jenkins said. "She has done the job of two to three volunteers and she's the first voice you hear when you call to ask for services."
Ed Stokes' daughter, Connie, spoke about her dad and how much he loved the Lamorinda area. "Dad embraced the community over 50 years ago and has given a lot and was a part of everything," she said. "Ed never said no - he was always willing to help any organization. We're very honored that Lamorinda Village is keeping his legacy alive."
The Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary also presented Gough with the Paul Harris Recognition Award, which is the highest honor Rotary can give. The Rotary club is also a Lamorinda Village donor and helps those who cannot afford to be members. Ed Stokes was also a Rotarian.
Other volunteers were recognized for their contributions, including Orinda resident Rick Shriner, who created the software package to run the Village and match volunteers, Treasurer Jack Sweitzer, Secretary Joyce Hawkins, Andy Amstutz, who was the membership chair from the beginning, and other founding member Skip Bradish. Jane Tiemann was also recognized for serving three years as president of Lamorinda Village.
"We have such an independent society," said Mike Kern, a retired family physician specializing in geriatric care whose sons live out of state. "People are disconnected and need more support. We have an opportunity in our community to do something about it."
For information about Lamorinda Village, visit www.lamorindavillage.org.

Acalanes High School carolers entertain Lamorinda Village members and volunteers at Dec. 13 event. Photo J. Wake

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