Honoree: Michele Sooy
Honored by: Council on Aging – Orange County
Cause Area: Human Services
Michele Sooy has been a tried and true volunteer for the Council on Aging, even before she became a state certified ombudsman in April, 2014. Michele is everyone’s dream volunteer. She is always willing to take on another assignment and help out wherever she is needed. She is always prompt with all the required paperwork, and it is complete and legible. When Michele first began as an ombudsman she was assigned to several small residential care facilities for the elderly and it became quite apparent that her concern for and commitment to the residents was boundless. As the need for more coverage of facilities grew, Michele was ready and willing to take more facilities, regardless of location. Once we realized what a gift she was to our program we asked her to step up and become the ombudsman at a large assisted living facility and nursing home, which is usually reserved for the more experienced ombudsman. Michele took the proverbial bull by the horns and began the journey of learning about the “good, bad and ugly” of navigating the world of advocating for those residing in facilities which often forget that those in the beds are people with rights and deserving of dignity. Michele took her “job” very seriously and has continued to be an amazing advocate who often goes above and beyond. One of Michele’s most endearing qualities is that she recognizes that the learning curve of being an ombudsman is infinite and her questions are often insightful and helpful to her peers as well. Speaking of her peers, Michele is always available to help cover facilities for ombudsmen who are going on vacation (the joys of being a volunteer!) or need to take some time away for other reasons. She often will come in to help answer phones if we need coverage. Her compassion with callers is phenomenal, plus she actually understands the system and rarely hangs up on anyone. Michele is also a very integral part of the Council on Aging’s Smilemaker Guild which provides thousands of gifts for residents during the holidays. Michele has become such an asset to the ombudsman program that it would be hard to imagine how we could get along without her and we hope that doesn’t happen for a very long time. Not only would we miss her, but all of the residents she so aptly advocates for would suffer a great loss. Please join us in helping to recognize this very special volunteer and the incredible contribution she makes on a daily basis to improve the quality of life for those individual living in long term care facilities in Orange County.