BCBSM Honors Outstanding Seniors with Annual Claude Pepper Award

Adriane Davis

| 3 min read

Detroit-based Adult Well-Being Services and two Michigan seniors, Barb Wilcenski of Jackson and George Wojdacki of Clinton Township, were honored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Senior Advisory Committee for their outstanding dedication to, and advocacy for, senior issues. The awards were presented during the Older Michiganians Day event at the Lansing State Capitol on June 3. “For over two decades, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has recognized the important role of advocacy in ensuring the health and wellness of older adults,” said Bridget G. Hurd, director of community responsibility for BCBSM. “We are proud to acknowledge the efforts of community members and organizations whose volunteer efforts have positively impacted the lives of Michigan seniors.” The Claude Pepper Award is presented to individuals whose professional or volunteer efforts have made significant contributions to improving the lives of Michigan seniors, particularly those whose access to health care services may be hindered by physical, mental, financial or geographical limitations. This year's honorees, who each received a $1,000 check to be given to nonprofit organizations of their choice, are:
  • Barb Wilcenski of Jackson, 76, is the volunteer leader of Grace Church’s GriefShare program for people who have recently lost a loved one. The program is open to all ages, but consists mostly of older men and women. Along with leading the program, Barb organizes meetings with past and current attendees. After suffering her own losses, she tirelessly volunteers her time to help others in their grief. Barb also leads a group that entertains nursing home residents.
  • George Wojdacki of Clinton Township, 66, volunteers as a Medical Medicare Assistance Program (MMAP) outreach specialist by helping older adults understand Medicare options and healthcare benefits through counseling and presentations. While volunteering 789 hours in the last year, George has shared ideas on how to increase awareness and build partnerships in order to help older adults in the state. His leadership formed a workgroup devoted to awareness building, where volunteers come together to develop and implement ideas.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has honored outstanding senior citizen advocates with the Claude Pepper Award since 1990. The award is named after the late Claude Pepper, the U.S. congressman from Florida who was one of the principal sponsors of the Older Americans Act of 1965 and a major force in strengthening Social Security and Medicare. Since the award’s inception, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has awarded more than $55,000 to recipients in support of nonprofit organizations. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan also presented Detroit-based Adult Well-Being Services (AWBS), with the Senior Advocate Award in recognition of the organization’s exemplary programs and services to improve the overall well-being of older adults. A provider of paid and unpaid services to older adults in Southeast Michigan for 61 years, AWBS has accomplished many firsts as a senior services provider. The award was presented to AWBS President and CEO of Karen Schrock, who leads the organization in promoting the health and independence of adults through advocacy, services, family and community support.
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association