Age is no barrier

Seniors who give of themselves honored at Older New Yorkers event

Posted 11/15/23

Seniors who give of themselves honored at Older New Yorkers event

ALBANY, NY — Jack Luster and Karin Pantel of Sullivan County were recently honored by the New York State Office for the …

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Age is no barrier

Seniors who give of themselves honored at Older New Yorkers event


ALBANY, NY — Jack Luster and Karin Pantel of Sullivan County were recently honored by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA).

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) recently honored over 90 older adults for their volunteerism.

The event was part of NYSOFA’s annual Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration, presented during a November 3 livestream.

Awardees were nominated by New York’s 59 county Offices for the Aging and their partners, who identified older adults making substantial contributions in their communities through volunteering and civic engagement. 

Profiles of Luster and Pantel, taken from the program book written by NYSOFA, follow.

Jack Luster

Jack Luster radiates positivity with a smile that uplifts those around him. He is known for soothing hearts and souls with his music and genuine warmth. 

Luster volunteers for the Mended Hearts Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Sullivan County and distributes food for the less fortunate. He also volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House, Camp Simcha, Catholic Charities, and he performs on the flute during Christmas Mass. He also lends his saxophone talents to food pantries and homeless shelters, and plays the flute at the local synagogue. He even crafts balloon animals at Marie’s Park in Woodbourne. 

Luster was born in Miami, FL, and moved to Monticello at the age of five. There his parents established and operated the West End Diner. After residing in New York  City as an adult, he returned to Monticello when his father fell ill. 

He said, “You receive back more than you give,” a testament to the profound  impact volunteering has had on his life. 

Karin Pantel

Pantel’s roots in Sullivan County have instilled in her a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by rural communities, particularly in health care. 

Throughout her life, she has been a tireless advocate, providing education and information to raise awareness and address these challenges. 

Her dedication to volunteerism is evident through her active involvement in  multiple organizations. Her passion for education and advocacy has driven her to make a  meaningful impact in her community. 

Pantel served as a community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Hudson Valley Chapter, utilizing her decades of nursing to educate about Alzheimer’s disease. She participated in the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) as a member of the Alzheimer’s Congressional Team for her region, talking with Congressional members and staff to advance legislation. 

Pantel is also a member of the New York  State Rural Health Association (NYSARH), the board of which she was elected to in 2022. 

Pantel called on aspiring volunteers to “start by considering the causes or issues that  you genuinely care about. Think about what motivates you and where you believe you  can make a meaningful impact. Identifying your passions will help you find volunteer  opportunities that align with your values. Volunteering is a rewarding experience. Your  efforts, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in your community and  beyond. Just do it!” 

Seniors do so much for so many

This year’s honorees are from 55 counties in every region of the state. They are recognized for their support of charitable causes, their work with local health care and human services organizations, grassroots civic contributions, volunteer work with emergency management corps, local fundraising activities and much more.

Awardees also include volunteers for the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (or HIICAP); and the Long Term Care Ombudsman program. These volunteers assume specialized roles that demand many hours of training, intricate problem-solving and coordination with local organizations to help older adults.

Collectively, this slate of awardees has more than 5,500 years of life experience, more than 4,000 years of family experience, has volunteered for a combined 2,568 years, and raised 298 children, 295 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Contributions of older adults

Each year in New York, nearly one million volunteers aged 60 and over contribute 495 million hours of community service at an economic value of $13.8 billion. Beyond volunteering, New York’s 4.84 million older adults provide pivotal intellectual, social and economic capital to our state. They are responsible for most volunteering, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and donation activities in the U.S. out of any demographic group. Adults 50 and over are responsible for approximately $1.8 trillion in federal, state and local taxes, a figure that will quadruple by 2050. They support almost 7 million jobs and represent 63 percent of the state’s GDP ($700+ billion). 

Learn more about New York’s seniors and Older New Yorkers Day at  

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