April 23, 2009
A local man is getting some big time recognition in Washington for his countless hours of volunteer work in the Charlottesville area.
This week's Hailey's hero is so dedicated to the line of work he's in, he spends his retirement days combining volunteering with the work he gets paid to do.
Charles "Chuck" Strauss is on a computer just about every day. He's normally sitting next to a senior in need of help sorting through health care paperwork.
"It's confusing for people...because of the changes that have been made," says Strauss about health care paperwork. "You combine that with the intricacies of Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare supplement, and the seniors especially, if they're not computer literate, they have a heck of a time understanding this material."
Strauss is a pro at reading between the lines--and the fine print--of insurance documents and health care memos. The Seniors he helps in his hometown in Nelson County are getting help from a professional. Strauss is a retired insurance executive.
"For JABA [Jefferson Area Board of Aging], he stands out as a bright star in getting communities to tap into the importance of our senior population," says Gordon Walker, Executive Director of JABA, and the man who nominated Strauss for the national award.
JABA in Charlottesville is base camp for volunteers like Strauss. Gordon Walker flagged him as a huge help, and nominated him for a national award that recognizes twenty-five older volunteers who enrich America. Strauss won.
"They had interviewed me for the nomination some time ago. Then, I got an email from Gordon, and I just sat there and couldn't believe it," says Strauss.
"I got an email from him saying I can't believe it. I can't believe it. He sounded like a little kid on the phone. He was so thrilled," says Walker.
On May 1, Strauss won't be putting in hours of volunteer service. Instead, he's off to Washington, D.C. to accept his award.
The Metlife Foundation "Older Volunteers Enrich America" awards are handed out each year. Chuck Strauss began his volunteer work with seniors back in 2000. This is the first time he's being recognized.