Tuesday, 2 April 2013

100 Years Well Lived

On March 19, the Council on Aging honored Marion Hawksley as the newest – and therefore youngest! – member of the Century Club.  The Century Club honors Orange County Seniors who are turning 100 years young and reside in nursing homes and assisted living homes.

Marion’s celebration was brought to our attention through the efforts of her Council on Aging Ombudsman, Doreen Kaller.  Doreen had this to say about her relationship with Marion:

“Marion is such a sweet lady who has not given up on life.   She continues to walk, smile, and embrace life.   Every time that I visit the home, she looks up and gives me such a warm greeting and a big smile.   When I talk to her, she always has a laugh and a wave of her hand to indicate her opinion on things.”

Ombudsmen are trained volunteers who serve as advocates for seniors residing in nursing and assisted living homes.  For more information about this meaningful volunteer opportunity or if you are aware of other seniors we could be celebrating, please let us know!

– Tricia Homrighausen

Marion Ruth Jorgensen Hawksley
Born: March 19, 1913, in Albert Lea, MN

By Ronda Carver, Marion’s daughter


Marion began her life in Albert Lea, MN. She had an older sister, Avenelle. She married Clarence E. Hawksley, who worked for the Ford Motor Company. After
they married, they moved to Long Beach, California, and their first daughter, Ronda, was born. Ten years later, they had a second daughter Barbara.

She and Ed were Patron and Matron of the Eastern star and participated in many Masonic activities. Marion, a stay at home mom, was very involved with her family. She was also part of her daughters’ life in many ways. Marion was a Campfire Girl Leader, President of the PTA and Guardian of Job’s Daughters.
Marion was also a member of a Bridge Club that lasted more than 50 years.

Traveling was a part of Marion’s life. Family camping trips to Yosemite Valley were an annual affair and trips to other National Parks were squeezed in as well. She and Ed traveled to Europe and Hawaii. After his retirement, they moved to Huntington Beach, got a trailer and did lots of RV’ing in the US and Mexico.

After Ed passed away in 1989, Marion continued to live in Huntington Beach and participated in many activities in the mobile home park. She has since moved to Yorba Linda and is only 10 minutes from her oldest daughter, Ronda. Her youngest daughter lives in Newport, Oregon. She has 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It Could Happen to Someone You Love


Kathleen Weidner, Director of the Long-term Care Ombudsmen Program, and her father George Weidner, a recent victim of fraud targeted at older adults.

His phone rang early in the morning, and George Weidner hurried to answer it.  He smiled when he heard his grandson say, “Grandpa, it’s Jessie.  How are you?”   George shared with Jessie that he was doing okay – but worried about his upcoming chemo treatments for his advancing cancer.  Jessie expressed his concern.

Then Jessie – in somewhat of a panic – told Grandpa he needed his help and he needed it fast.  He was in Mexico with friends – and he was in jail.  In a pleading voice, Jessie begged his Grandpa to not tell his parents. He was due to come before a judge in a matter of minutes.

Jessie explained: “Grandpa, you know how things are in Mexico.  They told me if I can get them $2,000 in the next 30 minutes they will let me go.  Grandpa, can you please help me?  I am so afraid of what might happen if I don’t get out of here.”

Grandpa’s response was immediate.  Of course he would help his grandson.  He told Jessie not to worry.

In the middle of a Nebraska winter with a storm brewing outside, George Weidner at 87 years old, set out in his golf cart to the nearest Western Union office.  He followed Jessie’s instructions and wired him $2,000.  A call quickly came in from a man with a strong Spanish accent; the transfer had been successful.  Jessie would be freed.

As he climbed back into his golf cart for the ride home, only then did George Weidner start to question what he had just done.  When he got home he made a few phone calls – Jessie wasn’t in Mexico.  Jessie was safe at home.

This “Grandparent Scam” is real and happening all across the nation to unsuspecting seniors.  This true life story happened to the father of Kathleen Weidner, our own Ombudsman Program Director.  Kathleen had this to say about her Dad’s experience: “A financial predator took advantage of a good man’s love and compassion for a family member – and they are doing it all the time.  If this can happen to my Dad – a wise and cautious man – it could happen to anyone.”

For more information how to protect yourself from scams and fraud, check out our Medicare and Financial Fraud video series!


– Tricia Homrighausen
   Communications/Development Manager
Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Recently I attended a seminar at the Center for Spirituality and Aging at Walnut Village in Anaheim.  The seminar topic: “Practicing Kindness, A Framework for Meeting the Challenges of Aging”.

The seminar was excellent, and I came away with an even deeper appreciation of the need for kindness as we serve seniors in our community. In today’s busy world, kindness can be that simple act so often forgotten.  I wanted to share with you today a resource list that was distributed to those in attendance.  I hope it is helpful as we all work towards creating the best world possible for seniors.

– Tricia Homrighausen
   Communications/Development Manager


Resources on Practicing Kindness


The Miracle of Kindness:  Changing the World, One Act at a Time by Jim Kok

The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci

The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg



 Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Lots of ideas for a variety of settings.  Videos, newsletters, stories of kindness,  resources.

Australian Kindness Movement  This particular page of the site has ideas for “The 16 Days of Kindness” program.  Could be adapted for older adult residential settings.

 Spirituality and Practice:  Resources for the Spiritual Journey Many resources from quotes, books, films, ideas to practice.

One Million Acts of Kindness Primarily aimed at school programs, but has a tab for ideas of linking seniors and children around kindness.

Self-Compassion: A Healthier Way of Relating to Yourself  Some videos on self-kindness and compassion, guided meditations and reflection exercise.

 Care and Kindness The website for Care and Kindness conferences and newsletters, Jim Kok, founder. 


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Bringing Smiles to Forgotten Seniors

SmileMakers Workshop is OPEN!

The Council on Aging’s  SmileMakers and Friends are busily preparing to bring smiles to forgotten seniors. Our Holiday Project has its roots in our Ombudsman Program.   Ombudsmen are volunteer advocates for our 28,000 seniors living in nursing and assisted living homes throughout Orange County.

One of the recipients of the Holiday Project.

The SmileMaker program began in 1997 when some of our Ombudsmen noticed that many of the seniors they visited had received no gifts during the holiday season.  That first year, our Ombudsmen delivered 60 impromptu gifts – wrapped in haste in simple white trash bags with bright red bows!  No one complained about the wrapping though; the love and caring of each gift clearly shined through.

Employees from Behr posing for a photo!

Today, that legacy of love and caring continues. The project has grown so large that a volunteer guild known as the SmileMakers supports the project year round.  One gift at a time, the SmileMakers Guild has brought a smile to literally thousands of unexpecting seniors inOrangeCounty.  Last year, our volunteers delivered over 2,900 gifts – a Herculean task made possible through the dedication of our volunteers and the caring community which supports them.

SCAN Health Plan stopped by the Workshop!


Volunteers from SCAN Health Plan, Tustin Women’s Club, and Behr – along with several other hard working individuals – were wrapping feverishly today! Our gratitude to one and all as you brighten the holidays for grateful seniors who will never be able to thank you themselves.

To see more photos, visit our photo albums on Facebook!

To get involved in this worthwhile project, visit here.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Life At Any Age is What You Make It.

This was sent to us from one of our Ombudsman:

When visiting a newly admitted 90 year old resident in a 6-bed facility in Anaheim Hills, I took some time to get to know her and watched as she labored to form answers to my questions. Her speech had been greatly compromised by a stroke.   After spending some time with her, I said that I was leaving and that she seemed to be doing well.  She slowly replied with a slight smile on her face, “I am fine.”   I responded in agreement and then she added, “With the angels.”

I was so touched by her reference to angels that I agreed that God does send angels to help us all deal with life more lovingly.  I added a few more inspirational thoughts before the resident looked at me with amusement and slowly stated, “Baseball!”  I later learned that the Angels had won their 8th game.

We all laughed at this miscommunication, including the residence owner, the hospice nurse, myself, and the resident.  The moral is: life at any age is what you make it. Experiences like this make me so thankful for being an Ombi.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Council Volunteer Stops Financial Predator

At the age of 94 and living alone, Marian Boyd had become vulnerable. Forgetful at times and over medicated, Marian had lost some of her ability to make good decisions. This is the time when a financial predator entered her life. Marian enjoyed the attention and help of her new “friend” Jack – a real estate agent who attended her church, and quickly endeared himself to her. As her two loving daughters attempted to become more involved, Marian became suspicious of their intentions, and further isolated herself from those who really cared.  Instead, she turned to her new “friend” and his associate for advice and counsel.

At the time, Marian was living comfortably and independently in her own home. Jack convinced Marian that he would not only assist in the sale of her home, but also help her to find an assisted living home to reside in. After the home was sold – and the contents stripped bare – her new friend arranged to take Marian to the bank and open an account with his name on it. Jack also had a new trust written, established himself as Marian’s power of attorney, and the beneficiary of her estate. Fortunately, an attentive bank manager became suspicious and contacted Adult Protective Services. Since Marian resided in an assisted living home, Adult Protective Services contacted the Council on Aging’s Ombudsman program. Our ombudsmen are certified by the state of California and are highly trained volunteers who serve as advocates for our residents of long term care facilities. Marilyn Byrne, the ombudsman for Marian’s assisted living home, was given the suspected financial abuse report and – with Marian’s permission – began an investigation.

As Marilyn investigated, she came to believe that the best approach to protect Marian would be twofold: to stop the financial predator and to reconnect Marian with her daughters. Vicki-McVeigh Perkins, Marian’s daughter, described it this way: “Marilyn was very savvy and calm with my mother. She visited her weekly for nine months and gained her confidence. She helped my mother through undoing the trust, getting medical advice, and legal counsel through the Council on Aging. “She gave my mother moral support. Marilyn was the lightening rod that kept pulling my mother back to reality. She did a wonderful thing, and on top of everything else, she was mama’s friend.” Perhaps the greatest joy created by Council on Aging’s volunteer was the reunion of family made possible by Marilyn’s perseverance. Vicki’s husband,Richard Perkins, described Marilyn and what she accomplished this way: “It gives you faith, and warms your heart that there are good people in the world. It absolutely changes your whole attitude about mankind really. There are people going around doing really good things, and Marilyn is an example.”