By Harriet Flehinger

Do you need a little inspiration to get started on your 2012 goals and resolutions? Meet Upper West Sider Irene Zola. She’s been stepping up to help seniors stay in their homes when they might otherwise be forced into nursing homes. And now she’s getting some recognition.

Zola, head of the Morningside Village senior volunteer program, was recently named NY1’s Person of the Week for her work helping seniors to live comfortably and find assistance and companionship at home. Irene screens, coordinates, and schedules 75 volunteers who assist seniors from 108th St. to 118th Street to stay in their own homes and out of nursing homes. We asked her why she does it:

“At a time when we are facing a looming crisis in eldercare, community care for older seniors who want to remain in their own homes, the homes they love, is now a viable option.  In Morningside Heights, we’ve proved this.  Now, families, friends and neighbors must learn the wonderful art of community organizing.  In our case, it was all about providing willing volunteers with the opportunity to help.”

If you would like to volunteer, visit lifeforce-in-later-years.org or call 917-775-1199.

In addition to this local honor, Irene received national recognition in the current issue of AARP Magazine as one of the ten winners of the Inspire Awards for her work as an Advocate for the Elderly in her Organization, Life Force in Later Years. You are in good company, Irene. Steve Jobs and Jane Goodall have also won the award.

Harriet Flehinger writes about the community of active seniors on the Upper West Side for the West Side Rag. Read her previous columns and stories here.

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