When 88-year-old Matje Van Bergen woke up on the crisp morning of Friday, June 20, greeting her ankle-height white rescue dog, Brandy, and peeking at the now-summer sun, it seemed like an ordinary day. But by 10 a.m., when she received a special phone call from Town of Colonie officials, Friday had become extraordinary.
I didn't know what was going on, said Van Bergen, in response to learning that she was being honored as the first Town of Colonie Extraordinary Senior.
Two weeks earlier, sitting at a long, dark table where sometimes-controversial and hard-hitting decisions are made by the Colonie Town Board, Supervisor Paula Mahan discussed the need to recognize members of the largest population of the town for the outstanding service, input and life they bring to the community " senior citizens.
Mahan had said she planned to recognize one "extraordinary senior" per month to show the seniors in Colonie how important they are to the town.
"We feel that it is a nice way to recognize them," she said.
On Friday, she continued the sentiment, saying that, "The seniors of the town of Colonie have long been an integral part of our community, and this new tradition will help celebrate the valuable contributions they make to our town."
Town Director of Operations Peter Gannon said that each month the senior who is chosen will be honored at a reception in Town Hall and given a framed award commemorating their status as "Extraordinary Senior of the Month."
Not even a month after Mahan spoke of such plans, Van Bergen was chosen as June's extraordinary senior.
According to Director of Senior Resources for the Town of Colonie Christine Cary, Van Bergen was chosen to be the first extraordinary senior after being identified by the staff of the Senior Resources Department as such.