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Inspire Positive Aging Awards

Clockwise from top left: Dori Gillam, Trudy James, Mohan Khandekar, Val Brustad, Shirin Velji, Sadru Kachra, Jessie Strauss.

Shirin Velji, Health & Wellness: A former teacher in Tanzania, Shirin continues to mentor and inspire everyone she meets. She loves to help people of all generations. She brightens the days of the residents she visits at Emerald Heights, where she also made masks to protect residents against coronavirus. She volunteers at the fitness center, cheering for the athletes and welcoming the spectators. Shirin worked for the South East Asia Operational Department on urban projects in Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Her enthusiasm in her work is evident in the stories she shares and the lifelong friendships she has made. Shirin has dedicated her life to helping others, and it’s truly inspiring.

Sadru Kachra, Community Service: Having grown up in Kenya and seen the living conditions of those around him, Sadru spent his life giving to others. One of his favorite projects was building two extra classrooms to a one-room school. Now that he lives in Washington, Sadru spends his time volunteering at the library and the senior center. His passion to serve, even at almost 80, motivates and encourages those in the community to give to others. Sadru teaches youth to expand their knowledge outside of school, to go to college, and to volunteer throughout their professional lives. Once, he met Mother Theresa who, at a very old age, came to Kenya to attend an event in which his Lions Club distributed rice to the poor. He says that meeting her inspired him, and now he works hard to inspire others.

Jessie Strauss, Defining Inspiration: Jessie is a life-changer and leader—not just in her own community but around the world, as well. Considerate, forward thinking, vibrant and always fun are words that best describe her. She takes leading by example to a new level as she has led 40 international Habitat for Humanity trips and five Habitat trips in the United States. Jessie is invaluable to everyone who meets her. She is a wonderful listener; she is the type of friend everyone wishes they had and has a special way of being inclusive that creates community anywhere. Jessie takes great care of herself and stays active. She ages gracefully and continues to support her community in any way she can!