Herbert Randall’s good deed has taken on a significance far beyond a nice gesture.
The 73-year-old retired Army colonel, who earned Silver and Bronze Stars for valor in Vietnam, established the Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year Award four years ago to honor a senior volunteer for outstanding work in support of the state’s oldest residents.
This volunteer effort didn’t have a big PR budget. Yet this kind of recognition is critical for a metropolitan area with a rapidly growing senior population. More than 13.3 percent of the area’s population is older than 65. That share is growing faster than all but two major metropolitan areas, according to 2014 American Community Survey data.
Demographers forecast the percentage will continue to rise quickly as the nation’s senior population almost doubles to 81.7 million by 2050.
Does anybody really expect government at any level, given the public’s desire to hold down taxes, to provide all the unique services senior citizens need?
Volunteerism focused on helping those in the over-60 age group will become more important than ever. And, as Randall points out, who better to help challenged seniors than those up in years themselves?
Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of seniors reaching out to help their brethren need only look to the Foundation Assisting Seniors, a Henderson nonprofit begun in 2002 by Favil West and Chuck Davis that has answered more than 80,000 requests for help.
The 79-year-old West, selected by a committee as Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year in 2015, notes the organization’s volunteers provide transportation to medical appointments and for grocery shopping to seniors who can’t drive.
The organization also provides durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs and canes, for short-term loan. Minor home maintenance services are completed for those unable to safely perform them.
West, a former fighter and airline pilot, is particularly proud of HowRU, another free program that calls seniors daily to see if they’re well.
The first Nevadan chosen for the statewide honor was 76-year-old Frank Pati, founder of the Mesquite Senior Games. Last year Rana Goodman of Henderson was acknowledged for her tireless efforts to reform the guardianship system. In 2014, Las Vegas resident Raymonde Fiol was selected for ensuring Holocaust survivors received needed services.
To nominate seniors 60 and older for the 2017 award — you need not be a senior to do so — go to nevshc.org or call 702-860-6349 before March 31.
“A major reason for giving recognition is that it sets an example, gives people an idea of what they could do, too,” Randall said. “Studies show that when people see others help out, they want to, too. ”
He’s right. Goodness begets goodness.
Paul Harasim’s column runs Sunday, Tuesday and Friday in the Nevada section and Monday in the Health section. Contact him at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.