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June 5, 2012 > Senior Peer Counselors celebrate graduation

Senior Peer Counselors celebrate graduation

By Helen Tracey-Noren

Graduation ceremonies mark this time of year and for the Senior Peer Counseling Program it is no different. People of all ages and from all walks of life celebrated a very special graduation Friday, May 25 at the Fremont Senior Center.

Donned in purple graduation caps and gowns, nine people were graduated from a training program aimed at alleviating depression, anxiety, and loneliness of senior citizens in the Tri-City area. This diverse group of counselors completed 54 hours in 18 sessions designed to give them tools to help older adults deal with emotional issues including depression due to Alzheimers and dementia.

Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison spoke at the graduation ceremonies, commending the new counselors on how they have "given back [their] time and energy back into the community." Mayor Morrison quipped, "Since I'm 76, one of you might get me soon."

Ricardo Avelino, Jeanie Bui, Sharda Chaudry, Carol Helstrom, Pat Helton, Elinor King, Marcia Prinz, Orv Rasmussen, and Barbara Rogers were given Certificates of Completion and officially deemed "Peer Counselors." Mira Malkani also graduated but was unable to attend the ceremony.

Senior Peer Counseling started in 1991 under the guidance of Dr. Ray Grimm and is overseen by Lis Cox, L.M.F. T. The Program, offered in Fremont, Union City, and Newark, is available in 17 different languages. Peer Counselors help approximately 50 clients every year who face challenges with aging by offering an empathetic ear.

Peer Counselor spokesperson Rasmussen thanked the program coordinators and Mayor Morrison, commending the City of Fremont for a "wonderful senior program." He noted that many cities are so focused on youth programs that seniors are often forgotten; he's glad Fremont is not one of those cities. "The youth are important," said Rasmussen. "But not so important that you overlook age."

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