Matt McEntire of Fort Worth and Susan Musfeldt of Arlington have received the Outstanding Older American Award and Outstanding Advocate for Older Americans Award, respectively, from United Way’s Area Agency on Aging. The honors were bestowed May 4 at a reception sponsored by United Way, its Area Agency on Aging and Brookdale Ridgmar at Brookdale Ridgmar, 2151 Green Oaks Rd. in Fort Worth.
The Outstanding Older American Award is given annually and honors an individual in Tarrant County who is at least 60 years old and who continues to lead a dignified, independent, and productive life and contribute to the community. The Outstanding Advocate for Older Americans Award honors an individual in Tarrant County of any age who exemplifies dedication to improving the quality of life for older adults in Tarrant County.
Outstanding Older American honoree Matt McEntire began volunteering with Meals On Wheels a dozen years ago. Since then he has logged more than 1400 volunteer hours delivering meals to the homebound. Going beyond the normal Meals On Wheels volunteer commitment, Matt delivers meals multiple days a week—covering two routes a day if needed—and delivers in many neighborhood areas beyond his own neighborhood.
In addition, Matt volunteers with Kindred Healthcare Hospice, visiting hospice patients. He also transports cancer patients to chemotherapy and other appointments for the American Cancer Society and donates a large number of turkeys to St. George Catholic Church for its annual Thanksgiving basket community project. Matt was nominated for the Outstanding Older American honor by Meals On Wheels Volunteer Services Vice President Nedra Cutler.
Susan Musfeldt, honored as the Outstanding Advocate for Older Americans, is herself an older adult who established the first—and only—“Memory Café” in Tarrant County last October. The Grace Memory Café is an opportunity for people with a diagnosis of early-to-moderate stage dementia to socialize and enjoy refreshments along with those who care for them. It is a place, Musfeldt’s nominator Elva Roy said, “where they can just be themselves without concern about stigma or intrusive questions, a place where people living the experience of dementia can learn from each other.”
Susan made the Grace Memory Café a reality at her church, Grace Presbyterian Church at 5500 Mansfield Rd. in Arlington. She requested and received approval from the church’s Board of Directors to use meeting space at the church and obtained a $5,000 grant from her church’s hierarchy to buy “senior-friendly” chairs with arm rests, sufficient cushioning and adequate seat width. The church provides the meeting space, but there is no religious aspect to the Café and all are welcome. There is no fee to enjoy the Café, which is open for an hour-and-a-half each month.
The Grace Memory Café operates under the auspices of the Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which trained Susan and the other volunteers who operate the Café. Susan also takes advantage of training offered by the North Central Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Most recently she learned how to teach “Memories in the Making,” which is art done by people with a dementia diagnosis, so she can offer that activity to Grace Memory Café participants.
Susan Musfeldt and her husband, Ron, are both active members of the Ambassadors For Aging Well group. “They are willing volunteers for any task needed,” said Elva, who is Lead Ambassador. “They’re the kind of volunteers that every organization hopes to attract—hard-working, always ready to jump in and do more than their share.”
During May each year, United Way and its Area Agency on Aging honor the community’s older Americans and those who advocate for older Americans. (May is designated Older Americans Month by proclamation of the President of the United States.) The Area Agency on Aging invites agencies, organizations and business leaders and their employees to nominate deserving volunteers for the awards. United Way and its Area Agency on Aging work year-round to promote healthy aging and independent living in Tarrant County.