Silt woman has been caring for the elderly for 30 years
The passion in Mary Jane Hangs’ voice when she talks about caring for the elderly is unmistakable.”I have a passion about advocating,” Hangs said. “And the Lord gave me the elderly to work with. I think we all need some advocacy. It’s hard enough to get old, without some of the other problems given to them.”The Silt resident celebrates 30 years working at the E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle on Jan. 17, and Gov. Bill Owens reappointed again this year as the chairman of the Colorado Commission on Aging. She has served six years on the commission – two of them as the chairwoman. Her reappointment is for a four-year term.Born and raised in Silt, Hangs may be from a small town, but she’s got a big job.As the chairwoman of the Commission on Aging, Hangs works with 16 other volunteers from around the state in an advisory capacity to the governor, making recommendations on issues facing seniors in Colorado. The commission meets six or seven times per year and consists of two persons from each Congressional District, one person at-large, one from the Senate and one from the House of Representatives. For someone from this area to be the head of the commission is amazing, said Kris Daler, director of public relations for the Grand River Hospital District. “She represents the whole Western Slope. What she does on that commission really impacts legislation on elderly issues. We’re really proud that someone from our small area is on the commission.”Daler also pointed out as Colorado’s baby boomer generation ages, it is more important than ever to have a voice in state policies.”Colorado has the seventh-fastest-growing aging population in the United States,” Daler said. “In the year 2010, there will be more than 770,000 seniors age 60 and over in Colorado. From the years of 2000 to 2010, the numbers of these seniors will increase 39 percent.”Along with advising state legislators and advocating for the quality of life for all seniors, the Commission on Aging conducts studies and reports on the problems facing the state’s older population, assists the government and private agencies in coordinating their efforts and promotes and aids in the establishment of local programs and services for the elderly. The commission is also in the process of holding regional meetings in preparation of a White House Conference on Aging scheduled for October 2005.At E. Dene Moore Care Center, Hangs has worked in a variety of positions during her 30 year tenure. She began as a nurse’s aide in 1975. In 1979, she became the activities coordinator and in 1990 took over as the Social Services designee.She is also a member of the Garfield County Housing Authority board of directors and the High Country Retired Senior Volunteer Advisory Committee.”What do I love about the work?” Hangs said. “There’s not a day that goes by that you’re not rewarded in some way.””What do I love about the work?” Hangs said. “There’s not a day that goes by that you’re not rewarded in some way.”
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