Regester, Stiles honored with senior advocacy award

Tracy Haun OwensAround Town, Feature

Joan Regester is a volunteer senior who has logged thousands of hours and miles on behalf of Mobile Meals for the last 25 years. Susie Stiles is a licensed clinical social worker who serves Knoxville’s senior community as part of Franklin & Kyle Elder Law. Celebrating with family, friends and other advocates, the two were honored with the 17th annual John J. Duncan Sr. Award for Senior Advocacy at a program at Hunter Valley Farm off Keller Bend Road on May 10.

The awards ceremony is a fundraiser for Senior Information & Referral (SIR), which is part of the Knoxville-Knox County CAC Office on Aging. The event included a wine pull and a silent auction.

Presenting the awards to the two women, state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey said she was reminded of the country gospel song “Do Something,” which urges people to take action in the world rather than lament its problems.

“These ladies are out there doing something,” Massey said.

Judith Pelot, manager of the Mobile Meals program, said that Regester has been an advocate and a friend to the many people she has served over the years. She volunteers in meal delivery and volunteer coordination, and she has spearheaded a number of special projects, including holiday and birthday card drives.

She said Regester also shares her secret to life with other seniors, which is “People need to find their niche in life. In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active.”

Introducing Susie Stiles, attorney Monica Franklin talked about all the ways Stiles has served her community professionally, including helping Franklin & Kyle Elder Law grow its practice. Stiles, who holds a prestigious Diplomat in Clinical Social Work credential, wrote the popular “Ask Susie” column for Covenant Health and also originated the “Alzheimer’s Pansy Project” to benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation.

In accepting her award, Stiles thanked the local “legends” who had been recognized as advocates in years past. These included Stan Boling, retired vice president of senior health services at Covenant Health. A sponsor of the event, he was said to be too ill to attend, and he passed away May 11.

State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, honorees Joan Regester and Susie Stiles, and Senior Information & Referral head LaWanna Broderick, at the 17th annual John J. Duncan Sr. Advocacy Award ceremony. (Photo by Tracy Haun Owens)

During the awards ceremony, a portrait of John J. Duncan Sr. rested on an easel at the front of the room, to remember the late 11-term representative and former Knoxville mayor who made senior and veteran services a priority in his career. Massey said this portrait of her father is normally in her office in Nashville, reminding her of the public service values he modeled for his children.

“The example my dad set for us is incredible,” Massey said.

Senior Information & Referral was established in 1968 and became part of the Office on Aging in 2004. Last year the office made 7,937 referrals to seniors for area services. Seniors or those helping seniors are welcome to call, email or visit the office for assistance, or to attend one of the informational sessions the agency holds at the county’s senior centers. Info: www.knoxseniors.org/scirs.

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