‘Friend’ found life purpose in work with Elgin-area seniors
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News June 1, 2012 2:38PM
Minnie Vasquez thanks the crowd for their support in her work as activity director at Senior Services Associates, Inc. as Steve Thoren, master of ceremonies at Friday’s “Friend to Seniors” award show, looks on. Vasquez was presented with the annual award by the Elgin Senior Provider Network. Erin Sauder/For The Courier-News
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:38AM
ELGIN — When Minnie Vasquez suffered a stroke at the age of 22 almost two decades ago, she was devastated.
An active person who loved to dance, she was temporarily sidelined by paralysis due to the stroke.
“I was so upset because I couldn’t do anything. I wondered what my purpose in life was,” Vasquez said.
After rehabilitation, she soon found that purpose by working with senior citizens.
In 2007, she joined Senior Services Associates Inc., where she is activity director. The non-profit agency is dedicated to improving the quality of life for mature adults by providing access to the social services they need.
On Friday, Vasquez was presented with the Elgin Senior Provider Network’s annual “Friend to Senior” award, which honors a person who has positively impacted the quality of life for senior citizens in the greater Elgin area.
Like previous “Friend to Senior” award winners, Vasquez had no idea she was getting the honor. Instead, she was told she would be making a presentation during Friday morning’s event held at the Elgin Moose Lodge. In the meantime, her co-workers, family and friends were waiting to surprise her.
“Minnie has focused her life around impacting the lives of so many seniors and enhancing the image of Senior Services Associates and downtown Elgin for years to come,” said Steve Thoren, who regularly emcees the Friend to Senior award banquets and is host of two shows on WRMN AM-1410 radio in Elgin. “Minnie always says, ‘When my seniors are happy, I am happy.’ ”
Vasquez was so surprised at the honor that it took her a few moments to speak.
“My heart is beating so fast right now,” she said to the roomful of people.
After being handed a bouquet of flowers and a plaque, Vasquez addressed the crowd.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I really see Senior Services as my second home. Every time I come to work, I think I’m coming to a place like home. That’s why I enjoy it. I’m very thankful God gave me the opportunity to work at Senior Services.”
She also thanked her family and co-workers.
“When I had my stroke 18 years ago, I was so upset; but I found my mission, and it is to work with seniors,” she said. “And I thank you for your support and help with that.”