The Oxford Exchange Club will honor Jo Ann O’Quin next week with its Book of Golden Deeds Award for decades of good work in the community.
The award will be presented at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, at King’s Restaurant in Oxford. Dinner and cocktails will be served.
Early in her career as a clinical psychologist and professional gerontologist, O’Quin recognized the need for a support group that would serve the emotional and informational needs of those facing the terrifying and difficult challenge of caring for family members with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. She formed such a group in 1985 and to this day serves as leader and facilitator of the monthly meetings—that’s 33 years of continuous commitment. The Oxford support group is widely believed to be the longest running continuous support group of its type in the country.
An associated activity, the C.A.R.E. (Caring for Elderly Relatives Effectively) luncheons, began in 2000 and continue today on a monthly basis. The C.A.R.E. title was taken from an annual conference and health fair that O’Quin organized and ran on the UM campus for 10 years.
Oxford’s Council on Aging is a third group she organized and runs. This group brings together service providers and others who work professionally with the elderly in our community. The monthly meetings keep group members informed of the full scope of community activities and services.
A more recent passion of Jo Ann’s is Memory Makers, a day respite program for caregivers that she started along with Diane and Bill Arnold. The program provides engaging and fun activities along with a lunch for participants with dementias four days a week, allowing their caregivers some much needed time off. In addition to being one of the Memory Makers founders, O’Quin serves on its board, where she has been instrumental in recruiting volunteers, hiring staff and raising funds to support the program.
Along with these formal activities, O’Quin serves as a community resource at-large for all things related to aging. Her husband reports that she fields calls weekly from distressed strangers in need of information, help and advice with an aging issue. She is indeed the person to call, he says, because she combines compassion with rich knowledge of the clinical, social, and legal aspects that confront the elderly.
For her many volunteer service activities, O’Quin has been recognized by her peers in the Southern Gerontological Society with a career service award, the GRITS (Gerontologists Rooted in the South) award, in 2012. Last year, she received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from the University of Mississippi in recognition of selfless service to her community.
The National Exchange Club’s longest running project, the Book of Golden Deeds Award recognizes dedicated volunteers who give endless hours of their time and talents toward making their communities better places to live. Ever since the Exchange Club of Huntington, Ind., sponsored the first award in 1919, thousands of unsung heroes and heroines have been recognized.
The National Exchange Club is the only service organization exclusively serving communities in the United States. More than 650 local clubs throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico provide individuals with opportunities to use their time and talents to benefit their local communities and the country as a whole. Exchange’s core values are family, community, and country.
Through the Programs of Service—Americanism, Community Service, and Youth Programs—members support activities that benefit youth, promote pride in our country, and honor military and public service providers, to name a few. Exchange’s National Project is the prevention of child abuse.
Special to HottyToddy.com