Lyvette Mosley, a lifetime athlete, wanted to do something to change Scioto County’s status as the unhealthiest county in Ohio. She happened to meet Libby Brisker, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) coordinator in Scioto County, and a dynamic partnership was born. They put their heads together and, in 2016, built the Southern Ohio Senior Games from the ground up. This Olympic-style event engages senior citizens in athletic competitions to improve their physical health and provide important social interaction opportunities. In just two years, the Southern Ohio Senior Games has become a three-week event that engages 180 athletes from across the U.S. and Canada, and brings much-needed income to southern Ohio businesses.
These outstanding two women on Monday received the Southern Ohio Serve Ohio Award. This was awarded to them because of their volunteerism in bringing the Senior Games to southern Ohio and Scioto County.
Chris Shaffer, program development and Serve Ohio commissioner, spoke of how above and beyond these ladies went, and how impressed he was. He had a proclamation from the governor of Ohio and the 2018 Serve Ohio Award, which he presented to the ladies.
“Serve Ohio develops AmeriCorp programs and the National Day of Service. As a champion, ServeOhio celebrates service in volunteerism by recognizing outstanding volunteer achievement. Serve Ohio is getting things done for a stronger Ohio,” Shaffer said. “We recognize that the volunteer and service improves lives in Ohio every minute of every day. The impact of everyday citizens to reach beyond themselves to help their neighbors and communities by transforming themselves and others shapes who we are as a state. We give, we learn, we serve and we grow. Serve Ohio awards are made possible through corporations Honda and American Electric Power Company. They recognize people and groups that reach out in their communities as volunteers. A cash award of $1,000 is issued for the organization the volunteers represent. When seeking out volunteers in southeast Ohio, we didn’t need to look any further than Libby and Lyvette. It is my pleasure to honor and present to them the Southern Ohio Serve Ohio Award.”
Mosley thanked everyone in attendance and said this could not have happened without the wonderful board (Senior Games Board). “I’m grateful for the board, and the people who came together and saw this vision for our community, and they love our community. We just rolled up our sleeves and got the word out, and this belongs to all of them. I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
Brisker said, “I am so honored and humbled that we were chosen for this award, because we went into this with just our hearts, because we love this community and we know that we have good people here, we have supportive people here. The whole community has embraced this project, and it’s a good thing for Scioto County. We thank you all, and I echo: we couldn’t have ever done this without our board.”
They both thanked Deborah Harper for recognizing their efforts and hard work, and RSVP, because Brisker was allowed to take all the time she needed to get started.
Susan Rogers, director of RSVP of the Ohio Valley, said, “Libby was working for us, and she met this amazing woman who showed up at the office. What has blessed me was Libby decided to retire, and that did not mean she stopped the Ohio Games. But the pair truly volunteers, and it comes from the heart. And this is just a little piece of what they do, because we could write a list this long about the volunteer service they do.” She told the ladies, “I am so proud of you and what you did to showcase southeastern Ohio and Scioto County for the rest of the state.”
Mosley spoke of Gary Roberts, who went to Columbus with her and Brisker to speak to the state of Ohio. “He was here at the health coalition when I came to present the Senior Games, and he’s the chairman of our board. I appreciate Gary.”
“There are about seven regional games in Ohio, and after two years, the best regional games is here. There is a real good reason for that, that’s because all of us are volunteers. A lot of the other games are done with people who do it as part of their jobs. We are 100% volunteer. The other regional games are trying to figure out how we are being so successful, and that’s the reason. It’s been a real pleasure to be a part of this,” Roberts said.
According to its website, ServeOhio is purposed specifically to administer grants in Ohio under the federal National & Community Service Trust Act of 1993. AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based organizations across the country.
Gina Collinsworth, also a board member, said, “I think that when you started with an idea, to see it grow as far as it has in two years, people have no idea what all that means. But it’s a lot of work, but it’s not work if you enjoy it.”
The women also said having Kim Bauer at the Welcome Center was a big advantage, because it has helped them reach out beyond the community to reach others.
Harper, the person who nominated the two ladies, said, “I have to say, I knew that what they were doing was a big deal. It was like it can’t hurt to try. I would say I was half surprised that they received the award. It is a very high quality event that is going to continue to benefit the county and the people. This will be the third year for the Senior Games in September. It took them a little over a year — from the time Lyvette walked into Libby’s office — when they had the first event. They literally did it from the ground up. They had to figure how to do a nonprofit organization, they had to set up a bank account in order to receive donations, plus they had the learning of the games. One of the really big things they did this year was they got high school kids to monitor and be helpers in order to create a cross generation so the kids could see that, just because you are old doesn’t mean you can’t go home and ask your Grandpa if maybe he’d want to learn to play pickleball. They are thinking beyond that. This is an athletic event. They really are thinking ahead. The entire Senior Games board is volunteer and is getting high-quality people from the community to be on the board.”
Mosely concluded, “We’re just excited about the games and the community wrapping their arms around us and congratulating us, and as it gets closer to the games, we start meeting every week to prepare.”
The Southern Ohio Senior Games consist of the following events: Archery, basketball, bowling, corn hole, 10K cycling, disc golf, golf, horseshoes, jukskei, pickleball, 5 and 10K run, shuffleboard, softball, swimming, table tennis, and track and field. The games will be in September.
For more information, email Gary Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.southernohioseniorgames.org.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928