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Kay Hind wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, holds up a lifetime achievement award she received last week from the Georgia Aging Network. She was presented the award at the 2013 Healthy Community Summit in Macon.

Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, holds up a lifetime achievement award she received last week from the Georgia Aging Network. She was presented the award at the 2013 Healthy Community Summit in Macon.

ALBANY, Ga. -- SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind came back from this year's Healthy Community Summit in Macon last week with something she hadn't been counting on.

At the conference, held annually by the Georgia Aging Network, she was given a lifetime achievement award. As the meeting was drawing to a close, it was announced that there was one more presentation to make.

"I was totally surprised," she said. "This was not something that had been publicized. There are awards given out (every year), but they ask for nominations and they are all publicized.

"I was very appreciative."

The Georgia Aging Network is connected to the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services, which is a source of funding and direction for SOWEGA, so those who may have nominated Hind for the award would likely be familiar with the impact she has had in her 45 years with the council.

"The fact they gave it to me ... it is always nice to be recognized by those who know you," Hind said. "It doesn't have to be much, but it is nice to get something. ... I've been doing this job for years and I love what I do."

Aside from the more than four decades Hind has devoted to the organization, she said what may have made her stand out as the frontrunner for the award was some of the advancements being made in terms of programming and services for the elderly in Southwest Georgia.

Specifically, that applies to the ongoing construction of the 45,000-square-foot Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue. The project, which has been a long time coming for the council, represents a nearly $8 million investment and is on track to be fully occupied by early 2014.

"They know we are building a new building and that it will mean a lot to Southwest Georgia," she said. "Everyone knows that, everyone in aging.

"We really do have an excellent program for people in Southwest Georgia. We offer so many programs and services not available everywhere. We have been successful in partnering with local organizations so we can do things above and beyond just routine activities."

This is not to imply that the other aging councils in the state are not doing their jobs, or that Hind is doing the work in Southwest Georgia by herself.

"Obviously, I don't do it alone. I just happen to be the figurehead," she said. "I got the award, but because I'm here and the programs work. We can be a role model for some of the other programs."

The new building, Hind said, offers a lot of potential for the future, as it will provide opportunity to bring in even more programming.

"We are really fortunate we are going to be able to expand and add new programs due to availability of space," she said.

The recent honor Hind received could open up more opportunities down the road for SOWEGA, or provide some advancements for a few of the things it has ongoing now.

"We are in the process of applying for a large grant (for the construction of the center), and they want to know how the agency and staff are perceived," she said. "I'm excited about the possibility; it is progressing very well."

In the meantime, Hind can at least go to bed at night knowing she's doing her job well.

"It tells me I'm doing the right thing," she said. "I'm anxious that we complete the building and have it operational."