Daily Point of Light # 2947 May 23, 2005

Daily Point of Light Award for
Older Americans Month – May 2005

Mary Ellen Cox is one of the winners of a special judging of the Daily Point of Light Award being honored this May during Older Americans Month. Recognizing the contributions of older Americans, these awards celebrate 50+ volunteers who are making a difference by giving of their time, talent and experience to meet the critical needs of their communities.

Learn more about 50+ Volunteering.

Mary Ellen Cox has been an advocate for aging issues and reforms since 1971 when she officially “retired”. She served on Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging’s Board of Directors from 1993-2002. Now she is a member of our Advisory Council. In 2003-2004 she has chaired the Agency’s 30th Anniversary Planning Committee. Her commitment and passion to educate and advocate ensuring the availability of home and community based services for seniors and their caregivers are tireless.

She was appointed by five Governors of Virginia to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Aging. She served on this board for 20 years. She was the first Chairwoman of the Virginia Coalition on Aging. Other positions and contributions include: Chairwoman of the Interfaith Coalition for Older Virginias, Chairwoman of the Statewide Coalition to Support Family Caregivers, and board membership for Our Lady of Hope Health Care Center, Richmond Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Virginia Center on Aging.

She has been instrumental in the faith community as Coordinator of Older Adult Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. She insures that information on senior and caregiver topics is included in church publications.

She has served as a legislative advocate with the General Assembly on may aging issues to include tax relief for caregivers of the elderly and adults with disabilities. Before moving to Beaverdam, VA in 1993 to be with her daughter and family, she had already opted for a retirement of meaningful humanitarian service. Instead of days of bridge and cocktail parties, the previous twenty-five years in Southeastern Virginia involved her creating a Senior Center Multi-Purpose Center, a location for seniors to socialize, get continuous education and health services. This came out of a federal initiative and she asked to be appointed to the Southeast Virginia Model Program. This model led to the outgrowth of Tidewater’s first adult day care center in 1975 and 1987 it was named for her, the M.E. Cox Center for Elder Day Care, Inc. this she saw not only a respite for frail elderly, but for their caregivers. Her desire to see home and community based services meet the needs and desires of seniors and their families also serves the needs for cost savings in long term care choices and health care spending. Her gentle disposition, sure speaking manner, ego less aura, and reluctance to enumerate her accomplishments vocally make her an advocate’s advocate. The long list of unmentioned honors can’t be included in this short document. It is also not just humans that benefit from her daily care. Seven years ago she created a private rescue service for lost and injured animals. It takes really just a few words to describe Mary Ellen Cox – a warm, caring, active citizens’ citizen who puts service to others needs before her own. She has achieved vibrancy at the age of 84 by trying to wear herself out in service to others.