PHOTO: Council on Aging President Richard Gentzler opens at the awards ceremony in Franklin on Monday // Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The 27th annual Sage Awards saw the Council on Aging recognize and honor older members of the community for their outstanding achievements and contributions to society for Middle Tennessee in Franklin on Monday.
Taking place in the banquet hall of the Marriott Hotel in Cool Springs, the venue was absolutely packed with guests from all over Middle Tennessee.
Such honorees were Mary Mills, well known educator, county commissioner and lifelong resident of Williamson County, Joe and Dorothy Scarlett for their contributions to education through the Scarlett Family Foundation, Geeta and Pramod Wasudev for their development of the Indian Community Seniors Support Services, an aging patient assisted living center, and Carrie Hudson, for her years of humanitarian work serving with the Council on Aging, as well as her work in supporting women and the black community.
In addition to these four individuals, the nonprofit organization Alive Hospice was also recognized for its outstanding achievements, serving more than 430 patients and their families daily, and more than 3,600 annually.
“The Sage Awards are an important way that the Council on Aging lives out our mission: to ensure that the community values, honors, respects and supports older adults, their families and their caregivers,” said president of the Council of Aging Richard Gentzler. “Older adults provide 21 million older persons who volunteer each year, providing about 3.3 billion hours of service. In addition to helping our communities, older adults, by serving the needs of others, find it to be a benefit to their own physical and mental health.”
Mills, 92, worked in education for 39 years, working at Johnson Elementary as a teacher and eventually a principal. Following her work in education, Mills served as a commissioner for Williamson County for 17 years, and also served on the board of the Williamson County Medical Center for 25. Mills is also an active member of her church, as well as the African American Heritage Society, and has been lauded for her achievements for years.
“This organization recognizes that older people can still contribute, and they need to have somebody or some organization that would help them,” Mills said. “I really appreciate that.”
Joe Scarlett was the former CEO and chairman of the Tractor Supply Company, who after working nearly 30 years in that industry, launched a joint effort with the help of his wife, Dorothy – the Scarlett Family Foundation.
Founded in 2005, The Scarlett Family Foundation provides merit and need-based scholarships to young adults across Middle Tennessee, and has awarded more than $9.6 million in scholarships to date.
“Dorothy and I are truly honored to accept this award,” Joe said. “We worked very hard to provide scholarships, STEM scholarships and business scholarships. We’re proud to help, and we’re thrilled to be here. We’re proud of the wonderful work that the Council for Aging is doing for this special community, and Dorothy and I again want to thank you very much for the honor you’ve bestowed upon us.”
Pramod and Geeta Wasudev were honored for their founding of the Indian Community Seniors Support Services, an assisted living center for the elderly that has been lauded for its outstanding quality. A doctor, Pramod Wasudev has also worked with the Red Cross on no less than six natural
disasters, offering his services to those in need.
“We would like to share this award with our community members,” Pramod Wasudev said. “We are also thankful for our family members that have come across the country and traveled here to share this honor. It also inspires us to get more and more into community activities. Geeta and I hope this event will encourage all of us to continue doing [this kind of work].”
And lastly, Carrie Hudson was honored for having provided leadership to a number of nonprofit organizations benefiting women, children and minorities. Hudson served as the executive assistant to the chief of police in Nashville, served on the Council of Aging’s Community Assessment Committee, and also extends help to older adults, helping them with meals, shopping and companionship.
“It was a privilege to serve, and I have always enjoyed that,” Hudson said. “Often times we don’t take advantages of the opportunities we have. So I want to say, most of all, I thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I’m only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something – and what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of god, I will do.”
The annual Sage Awards have been an annual tradition since 1991, and will likely have a larger and larger pool of candidates to pool from as our older population continues to increase, and with it, the amount of good people good deeds in the world.