senior and daughter

The Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee held its 33rd Annual Meeting on Feb. 5 to celebrate the launch of the nonprofit organization’s 20th edition of the Directory of Services and to honor Ed Cole with the 2018 Elizabeth Jacobs Distinguished Service Award.

“2018 was an incredible year for COA and there’s much to celebrate, including the launch of our 20th edition of the Directory of Services,” said Grace Smith, COA’s executive director. “In 2019, we look forward to continuing to support Middle Tennessee’s growing older adult and caregiving populations by launching an employer caregiver initiative, expanding our community outreach, focusing on livable communities and bringing light to the issue of grandparents raising grandchildren due to the opioid crisis.”

The Directory of Services, a comprehensive and impartial information book on services for older adults and caregivers in COA’s 13-county Middle Tennessee service area, lists resources for activities, education, housing, medical services, transportation, help at home and more. Over 40,000 copies will be distributed at no charge for older adults and family caregivers through the Middle Tennessee libraries, the COA office and key distribution sites. Countless volunteers and the generous support of sponsors make the Directory possible. To view the online directory, and for a complete list of distribution sites, please visit www.coamidtn.org.

COA hears from hundreds of families who use the Directory to access services and from professionals who share that the Directory is their “bible” in working with older adults.

The organization also presented Ed Cole with the 2018 Elizabeth Jacobs Distinguished Service Award. The award, named for COA’s founder, Elizabeth Jacobs, a well-known and respected community volunteer, was established to recognize a volunteer or collective group of volunteers who have given selflessly of their time, talents, resources and abilities in furthering the mission of COA.

Cole has been a long-standing volunteer with COA, and two years ago, stepped up to form and chair COA’s Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition to address the unmet need of assisted transportation for older adults who no longer drive. He gathered public and private organizations to create a volunteer ride program, Senior Ride Nashville. This affordable service pairs an older adult who needs transportation with a volunteer who provides a ride, a helping hand and a friendly conversation. Cole has devoted hundreds of hours to the coalition, COA board meetings, community outreach and giving rides through Senior Ride Nashville. His enthusiasm and leadership have been vital in helping COA continue making the community senior friendly.

“Elizabeth lived by the motto, ‘If you see something that needs to be done, just do it.’ I am honored to say that that is the spirit of this award,” said Cole. “I am incredibly humbled, and I want to thank the legacy of this award and all of those before me that have received this important award.”

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