Sterrett dedicated to helping the senior community
CARBONDALE ” Virginia Sterrett was raised knowing the importance of her voice.
And today she’s using it to help seniors in her generation.
Sterrett, a 76-year-old Colorado native who goes by gina “with a small g,” is spearheading the development of a senior center in Carbondale. She is chairman of the board of Senior Matters, a nonprofit encouraging independent healthy living for the aged.
“The seniors, as far as I’m concerned, are who made this country,” she said. “They are deserving. They are hard-working. They need to be rewarded with some sort of security.”
Sterrett comes from a long line of women who have stood up for what they believed, helping others in the process. In the early 1900s, her grandmother was an advocate for women’s suffrage in Virginia, which allowed women the right to vote.
“My mother came to Colorado in 1920, when she was 20 years old. She cast her first vote in Carbondale, Colorado,” she said. “She came to Carbondale as a pioneer with my father, with nothing. She was strong. A lot of people were back then. The pioneers, they were an unusual breed of people.”
Sterrett’s mother was a teacher and dressmaker who taught women in Garfield County to sew through a program set up in Rifle by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After 27 years in Colorado, she became director of public welfare for Garfield County’s social services.
“Her life as a social worker was very rewarding,” Sterrett said. “She knew the needs of the American people.”
Sterrett was her mother’s caregiver until her death at 99. She understood then, and knows now, the importance of services and programs for the nation’s elderly.
“I have a great concern for the welfare of seniors, for their food, clothing and shelter,” she said. “I want seniors to be recognized. We’re not supposed to be put out to dry. We’re supposed to enjoy life. We’ve lived long and hard and we don’t need to look forward to poverty.”
In the 1980s, Sterrett worked with a group of volunteers in Carbondale to help establish senior housing. Today, she co-hosts a monthly segment on KDNK community radio called Senior Matters.
“We started out talking about a referral program.
We’re just helping people with nutrition, education, transportation and recreation,” she said. “And one of the reasons I started Senior Matters was to teach people about long-term healthcare insurance. I don’t sell insurance, but I’m advising my children now to get long-term healthcare insurance. Baby Boomers need to get out there start buying it. My goal is to enlighten families. My family needs to know the decisions I make as a senior.”
The Senior Matters radio program was established with funds from Sterrett’s 1949 Carbondale Union High School class. The show prompted Carbondale town officials to approach Sterrett to establish a senior center. A retired bridge instructor for Colorado Mountain College, Sterrett was eager to volunteer to help seniors.
“I think people need to be inspired. If I didn’t have something to do, I’d be in front of that tube and that’s not healthy,” she said. “If you need something done, you know who you ask? The volunteers. That’s who make America.”
Along with a senior center in Carbondale, Sterrett ” who regularly works with the Council on Aging ” wants to see senior programs became a mainstay in Garfield County.
“My personal interest is what happens to the seniors.
The seniors are the biggest voting block in America,” she said. “And we get the message that no one cares.
what happens to senior programs. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. My first love is senior programs. It’s manifested itself.”
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