Office for the Aging


Columbia County Honorees

Louise McCord is known throughout Columbia County for the wonderful work she does with her therapy dogs visiting and working with children, veterans, retired firefighters, and nursing home and hospital patients. Her car license plate holder says, "Louise and her therapy dogs," and she drives to therapy appointments nearly every day of the week. She trains dogs and their handlers to become certified through Therapy Dog International (TDI) and judges TDI testing. With the latest of a long line of certified Golden Retriever therapy dogs, Tansy and Cookie, she visits Taconic Hills Elementary School for the "Tail Waggin Tutors" reading to dogs program and the Roe-Jan Library for "Dogs Love Books Too." Tansy, who should earn "Senior Dog of the Year," uses a wheelchair due to spinal cancer but still makes visits which encourage people to keep going.

Louise said she started volunteering because "It was something to do that's worthwhile."

She really enjoys seeing the difference her efforts make in people's lives - and particularly mentioned one young boy with brain cancer. She says "When he met Tansy, who has spinal cancer yet keeps on going, his reaction inspired me to volunteer and reach out to people."

Louise McCord has lived in Ancram, NY long enough to be considered a "local."

Louise taught second grade for more than 30 years at Taconic Hills Elementary School.

Active involvement with the community has always been an integral part of her life.

Visit NYSOFA's 2014 Senior Day page for a complete list of awardees.

Raeph Sanderson serves as an elder on his church council, is a member of the mission committee, and fills numerous other volunteer roles. He is an active member and volunteer at the Won Dharma Center, volunteers at the Ghent Food Pantry, as well as a local therapeutic riding program, and delivers meals on wheels. An energetic and indomitable spirit, Raeph also volunteers for the Austerlitz Historical Society, Columbia-Greene Hospice, and has served as a therapeutic foster parent.

When asked why he decided to start volunteering, Raeph said he was finding it hard to keep to keep busy when health concerns slowed him down. At the same time, a close friend was in hospice, and Raeph decided to become a hospice volunteer as a way of learning how to be with people at that stage of life.

He says he appreciates the spiritual awareness of the possibilities of being present - regardless of the circumstances - that volunteering has provided him.

Raeph was born in New York City and lived in N.J. before returning to NYS where he earned a bachelor's degree in American Intellectual History from Hobart College and a Master of Fine Arts in Design from Alfred University. While maintaining a design and restoration business and art studio, Raeph taught at both the high school and college levels.

An active artist in retirement, Raeph creates three-dimensional pieces such as pottery and jewelry, is active in family and community life, and participates in a wide range of volunteer efforts.

Visit NYSOFA's 2014 Senior Day page for a complete list of awardees.