Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Honors Seniors With Annual Community Service Awards

by Meghan O'Brien

| 4 min read

DETROIT, August 11, 2015— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Senior Advisory Committee honored Grandville-based Senior Meals on Wheels and two Michigan seniors, Tom Appel of Rockford and Earnest Stean Pearson of Flint, for their outstanding dedication to, and advocacy for, senior issues. The awards were presented during the opening ceremony of the Michigan Senior Olympics in Rochester on August 7. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan salutes the Senior Advocate and Claude D. Pepper Award recipients for their tremendous efforts to support the health and well-being of Michigan seniors,” said Bridget G. Hurd, director of community responsibility for Blue Cross. “Supporting the older members of our communities is critical to ensuring they get the care they need and we are proud to acknowledge the efforts of these honorees whose volunteer efforts have positively impacted the lives of so many.” The Claude D. 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. A corporate contribution of $1,000 will be made to three charitable organizations on behalf of the following honorees:
  • Tom Appel of Rockford, 72, is the public relations and sponsorship chair for Advocates for Senior Issues (AFSI), a non‐partisan Kent County group dedicated to educating and advocating on behalf of older adults. In the past year, Tom has lent his expertise and passion to the Kent County Senior Millage renewal campaign to help educate the public, and seniors in particular, of the importance of community funding for seniors. His work on the campaign will enable over 23,000 older adults each year to receive services in their own homes and communities. His efforts to educate voters to pass the millage increase will allow more seniors than ever before to receive assistance and will reduce waiting lists for key services such as home delivered meals, in‐home care and transportation.
  • Earnest Stean Pearson of Flint, 69, was a nurse at Hurley Medical Center for 36 years prior to becoming a volunteer at the hospital upon her retirement in 2013. Since then, she has dedicated her time, compassion and skills to the hospital’s patients, serving as a volunteer in the lab, information desk and front lobby. She also provides companionship to patients by reading to them, providing music and assisting them with grooming and at meal times.
Blue Cross 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 $58,000 to recipients in support of nonprofit organizations. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan also presented Senior Meals on Wheels with the Senior Advocate Award in recognition of the organization’s exemplary programs and services to improve the overall well-being of older adults. Senior Meals on Wheels prepares and provides over 750,000 meals annually to seniors in southwest Michigan, free of charge. For more than 30 years, the organization has operated with the mission that all seniors deserve access to healthy, nutritious food. In addition to offering food delivery service and congregate meals, Senior Meals on Wheels also provides seniors in Kent County with a food pantry and holds monthly nutrition classes on meal planning, label reading and healthy substitutions in recipes to keep older adults well-informed, while continuously supporting an active, independent lifestyle. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and

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