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Sun Gazette: Culpepper Garden Awards Laud Advocates for Seniors in Need Print


Created:  Wednesday, November 14, 2012  5:34am


Their average age is 88, and their average monthly retirement income is less than $2,000. But on Nov. 12, residents of the supportive-services wing of Culpepper Garden benefited from the nonprofit housing provider's fourth annual Elder Service Awards fundraiser.

"This has to be the best turnout we've had so far," said Susan Philp, who chairs the Culpepper Garden board of directors. Funds raised through the effort, held at Signature Theatre, will provide support for residents whose needs have outstripped their resources.

"It means the difference between staying in their apartments and going to a nursing home," said Philp, who noted that the funds raised will help residents of the Pershing Drive apartment facility "age in place and with dignity."

The 73-resident supportive-services wing offers 24-hour support to those who need assistance with daily living. An additional 276 residents live in independent-living sections on the five-acre campus.

Among those who knows well the importance of the Culpepper Garden supportive-services wing is WRC-TV anchor Doreen Gentzler. Her mother, a native Arlingtonian, is a resident there.

"My family and I are very grateful," said Gentzler, who has emceed the awards program for the past two years. "My mother grew up in Arlington, went to Washington-Lee High School. She didn't want to leave."

At the event, which featured high-end buffet spread highlighting the talents of Culpepper Garden's food-services staff, Elder Service Awards were presented to the Arlington County government's Adult Protective Services division and to the Goodwin House Foundation.

Reginald Lawson, supervisor of Adult Protective Services for the county government, noted that last year, his office investigated 300 cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of at-risk senior adults. And he praised the collaborative efforts to find solutions.

"I've never worked a case in a vacuum," Lawson said. "It's a partnership, it's a collaboration. As resource-rich as Arlington can be, one of the most valuable resources we have is people – concerned citizens."

"We all have an ethical and moral obligation to protect our seniors and other vulnerable people," Lawson said.

The Goodwin House Foundation, the charitable wing of Goodwin House (which runs two local senior-living facilities under the auspices of the Episcopal Church), was honored for its efforts providing matching grants to organizations, including Culpepper Garden, that support seniors.

Kathy Anderson, CEO of Goodwin House, agreed with Lawson that partnerships among service providers and the public help support the lives of at-risk older residents.

"Arlington County is known, again and again and again, for never dropping a senior," she said.

The event brought out a host of community leaders, including Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th), Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo and County Board members Chris Zimmerman and Jay Fisette.

The county government's legislative priorities for 2013 include a call for the General Assembly to criminalize more types of exploitation of seniors. And Hope said he believed all areas of the commonwealth could benefit from replicating the successes of Culpepper Garden, which was established in 1975.

"I'd love to see Culpepper Gardens sprout up all across Virginia," Hope said.ted: