• Gretchen Lopez
  • 20211129-132035-c98da5878c

Ageism — discrimination based solely on age — can be directed toward younger as well as older individuals. It devalues a person and negatively impacts each member of our community. It exists in the workplace, it appears in advertising, is portrayed in greeting cards and is promoted in various ways throughout our culture.

The anti-ageism movement is a statewide, national and international effort to change the way people think, speak and act about aging in a more positive and respectful manner.

The Seniors’ Council of Douglas County and its partners, Changing the Narrative Colorado, the Douglas County Libraries and the Douglas County School District, worked together to support anti-ageism by sponsoring an amateur poetry contest called “Every Age Counts!”

The contest was open to Douglas County residents of all ages competing in several age groups. Contest materials were available in Spanish to encourage our Spanish-speaking residents to participate. A panel of judges composed of teachers, librarians and a published poet recently selected the winners.

Congratulations to Helen Ostrowski, Nic Hussey, Rebecca Hensley, Montana Moore, Gina Popolizio, Jolene Croall, Carol Reed and Ron Saatjian! Each poet captured his or her unique perspective and literary creativity in a poem that presented the positive aspects of aging. The partners and judges applaud your accomplishments and your willingness to take a stand against ageism.

An awards celebration was held on Nov. 6 at the Highlands Ranch Library. The poets, along with their family and friends, were in attendance and were given the opportunity to read their poems at the event. Each poet received a hardy round of applause plus received an official certificate of participation and a unique gift bag.

Included in the gift bags were gift cards to local bookstores provided by generous donors. Many thanks were extended to the Tattered Cover Bookstore, the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center, Nymbl Science, Home Care Assistance, Patients Choice, Donna Foerster, Valerie Robson, Vanessa Githinji and a company that wished to remain anonymous for honoring the winners in such a special way. Additionally, a booklet containing all the winners’ poems will soon be available in print and electronically.

A longtime senior advocate, Gretchen Lopez was the director of Ohios Senior Health Insurance Information Program for 17-plus years. She traveled across Ohio educating Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits and rights and helping older adults navigate the often confusing world of insurance jargon. After retiring in 2012, she moved to Colorado to be closer to her three adorable granddaughters who live in Lone Tree. Gretchen joined the Seniors Council of Douglas County about six years ago to continue serving older adults through education on key issues affecting our quality of life. She is currently the chair of the Seniors Council and works with a dedicated team of advocates to enhance the quality of life for all Douglas County residents.

The Seniors Council of Douglas County is an all-volunteer organization representing the voice of those 60 years and older living in Douglas County. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life by living well and aging well. The Seniors Council is currently meeting virtually the first Thursday of every month at 10 a.m. and provides educational presentations on a wide variety of interesting and informative topics. For more information about the Seniors Council, its meetings, events and presentations, please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, connect via facebook.com/MyDougCoSeniorLife, check out their YouTube channel or email dcseniorlife@douglas.co.us.