Gipson and McGaffigan Named Caregivers of the Year

2019 Caregiver of the year Winner

Lake Wales, Florida – November 25th, 2019 Caregivers Sandra Gipson and Jill McGaffigan will cruise into the holiday season with a trip of a lifetime complete with a new well-deserved title. The two were awarded the Family Elder Law Caregivers of the Year on Friday, November 15th at the Family Elder Law Taste of Buffalo. This fourth annual Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce after-hours event, hosted by business partners and life-long friends, Jason Penrod and Dennis Scovazzo, strives to bring their hometown of Buffalo, New York to Lake Wales. Again this year, Jason and Dennis pulled out all the stops to provide over 300 guests with an authentic Buffalo experience complete with Beef on Weck, sponge candy, pizza rolls and of course, Buffalo Wings.

In addition to the award-winning menu, the true highlight of the evening was the recognition of the eight Caregiver of the Year finalists. This award was developed last year to honor local caregivers who selflessly devote themselves to others. This year, the award has expanded to now award two caregivers: one professional and one volunteer. The finalists who were all presented with plaques and gift baskets were: Pam Bracey, Sandra Collins, Barbara Cook, Sandie Gipson, Jill McGaffigan, Betty Jordan, Deborah Lacroix, Cora Schwingel, and Cindy Sutliff. Winners, Sandie Gipson and Jill McGaffigan, were also each awarded a cruise for two. 

Professional caregiver winner Sandie Gipson was motivated to start the ministry, Sunshine for Seniors in honor of her mother who was affectionally called "Sunshine". Towards the end of her mother's life, she was in and out of rehab facilities, and although Sandie was there with her every day, she noticed that many of the residents were not as fortunate and never had visitors. After her mom passed away in 2016, Sandie found that she missed the rehab facility residents who she had grown to know over the years. She contacted the activities director at the facility and started spending her free time visiting the residents, and this eventually evolved into Sunshine for Seniors Ministries. The ministry hosts Christmas parties each year for the residents fulfilling the wish lists for more than five facilities. Also, they provide glamour shot days complete with volunteer hairdressers and makeup artists that makeover the residents who are then treated to a photoshoot by a professional photographer. Sandie says that geriatrics is her passion, and she will continue to offer them new and exciting opportunities in the future. 

2019 Caregiver of the year Winner

Volunteer caregiver, Jill McGaffigan is overwhelmed with appreciation for being recognized for this award. Jill spends her day taking care of her dear friend, Susan, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 55. Jill states that seeing Susan smile is her daily reward. Jill's selflessness is remarkable as she and her husband, Andy, agreed at the onset of Susan's diagnosis that they wanted Susan to have the care of someone who knows her well and loves her deeply. They also wanted to ease the stress of Susan's husband, Tommy. They formed a weekly dinner group to provide them with the connection and support from their friends that they had before the diagnosis. Jill spends 12 hours a day, six days a week helping Susan bathe, dress, and guiding her through her daily activities. She also promotes physical, social, and mental interaction and is continually looking for new ways to engage Susan's mind. Although often her hours can quickly jump from the standard 72 hours to 130 hours or more, Jill would not want it any other way. She is thankful that she has been able to help her dear friend stay in her own home with her husband.

"Family Elder Law's motto is 'Helping Seniors and Those Who Love Them', and we are thankful for the local caregivers, both volunteer and professional who dedicate their lives to serving the elderly. We believe that this award is just a small token of the appreciation towards the recognition that they deserve," said Family Elder Law director, Dennis Scovazzo. 

Jason Penrod agrees. “We are always looking to give back to others,” he said. “One of my favorite quotes from Jerome Ira Solkoff Esq. is ‘You do well by doing good,’ and we attempt to do that every day at Family Elder Law.”