Stockwell retires as COA director


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Cheryl Stockwell’s career as the director of the Fayette County Commission on Aging was celebrated on Friday with a retirement party.

Stockwell started out singing and traveling on tour spreading her gift of joy before she began her career at the Fayette County Commission on Aging in 2006. She started out holding fundraisers for the Meals on Wheels program followed by 12 years of experience working for other directors at the center.

Stockwell was then hired as the director by their Board of Directors and said it was the biggest job she’d ever had. She learned that “you can’t please everyone,” but you have to follow the rules of the State of Ohio and their board to make things work, she said.

Her focus was on service for people over 60 and their need to stay active and healthy. She said you “have to stop treating the elderly like they are in rocking chairs all the time” and focus on services to help them thrive.

Stockwell took the training and classes to learn all about Medicare and said it is very complicated, but “something just clicked with her” and she was able to grasp it and help all who came to her for Medicare assistance.

Her motto was, “age is just a number, keep moving and stay active.” Stockwell said this job “changed me and I was blessed to know so many special people.”

She took many trips with her seniors, but she said her two favorites were the seven-day trip to New York with 54 COA members where they “did the town,” and her bus trip out west with 48 COA members with a stop in Chicago. They visited Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Old Faithful, Yellowstone and more.

When it came to the COA programs such as chair volleyball or euchre, she said the seniors pretty much run the program, she just assists when needed. The pool players show up daily for their activities in the pool room off the dining area.

Stockwell said she feels her greatest accomplishment was to bring Medicare assistance to the COA through training and the Ohio Department of Insurance. She said Medicare can be confusing for seniors and she tried to answer any questions and help with problems as much as she could. “It was already an activity-oriented building when I got there,” but she wanted to improve services and her passion to “help people” she said kept her going.

The Meals on Wheels program holds a special place in her heart because she said they never get enough funding. The program has a separate budget and the funds of the center cannot be co-mingled. The Meals on Wheels program is not levy funded, only state funded based upon total county population and Fayette County has more seniors per-capita than most other counties, she said. They welcome any and all donations to make sure seniors get the proper nutrition at all times.

Stockwell continued to sing at the center while there, and was the one who started the gospel singing tent at the Fayette County Fair, getting sponsors and electricity run to it for evening programs, she said.

Stockwell said that after the death of her son in California, she began to re-evaluate her life and what was most special to her. She is married to Creg, a retired pharmacist, and they like to travel. She has spent the last 33 years working outside the home and said it is time to be a wife, mother and grandmother now. Stockwell has a new granddaughter and said she is “grammy” now. They are planning a trip for their upcoming wedding anniversary.

Stockwell said she will continue to be a Medicare consultant, offering her services to the seniors of Fayette County and the COA. She attends Heritage Church and will start her consulting with an open event at the church during open enrollment beginning in October to help seniors in need of understanding their medical plans. She may accept invitations from other churches to do the same.

Stockwell said this job “gave her a purpose in life” and feels “it’s time” and is glad to have Lori Bach take over as director, effective April 1. She feels after Bach’s 12 years as her assistant, she is ready to step up and do a good job. Bach has also taken the Medicare training classes and is able to assist COA members as the need arises. “She (Lori) is the most positive person I have ever met,” Stockwell said. “She will do a great job.”

Stockwell said she is glad for the time she was able to serve the COA and feels her greatest accomplishment is bringing Medicare to the building as a standard service.

Stockwell said she is leaving the COA in good hands with Bach as she transitions to the next phase of her adventure in life.

Bach becomes the new director and Tesa Butler will be the assistant director effective April 1. Bach said she worked closely with Stockwell for 12 years in the day-to-day operations of the center.

Bach said the one change that has already taken place was the transportation program being contracted to Community Action to transport members who don’t drive to the lunch program. This was a money-saving effort, according to Bach. This transportation service is for 60 and over seniors, and will now be available for transports to doctors and hospitals as necessary.

Bach said one of her first efforts will be to get the interior of the building painted, since she said it has been a long time coming and needed. The building has become a precinct location for Fayette County elections for the first time this year, according to Bach. They will also have a “Converse with a Nurse” program after partnering with Fayette County Public Health with on-site assistance.

Stockwell’s retirement party was held at the COA at noon Friday to celebrate her 18 years of service. Cake and refreshments were served and she greeted all the guests who came to say their goodbyes. Stockwell’s husband, Creg, and son and daughter-in-law were in attendance at the party along with Nola, her new granddaughter.

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