Close Search
Post Tags
Post Category CVCOA Blog
News Home
April 10, 2024 Leah Kittredge 4 min read

Get On Board!

This month, we take the time to thank and appreciate the volunteers who lend a hand to make our programs possible and make a huge difference in their communities.  One major way that folks lend a hand to CVCOA is by being a member of the Board of Directors.  I had the chance to speak with several board members about why they became involved and what they like best about being on the board. 

Denise Ricker has been on the board since 2020, having responded to a Front Porch Forum post looking for board members after also being involved with CVCOA as a Tai Chi instructor.  She says it's one of the best boards she’s been on.  She has observed that many people don’t know about the range of services CVCOA offers or that they are available to everyone, regardless of income or economic circumstances.  With her own parents getting older, she feels it’s helpful to be involved with CVCOA and learn more about services that may be helpful to her or her friends’ parents in the future.  Beyond her participation on the board, Denise has helped out with CVCOA’s major events including Age Outdoors and the Creative Aging Celebration, and thinks they are great.   

Emily McKenna first joined the board in 2016.  She was working with Central VT Home Health and Hospice at the time, and they worked closely with CVCOA. Through joining the board, she was able to deepen her understanding of the services and supports CVCOA offers older Vermonters, which she says are so vital and don’t get the attention they should.  Though she’s not an older Vermonter herself, she wants to do what she can to support a demographic she sees as under-resourced and to assist an organization that aims to help people stay in their homes and maintain their autonomy and independence, an issue that’s very important to her.  Emily has really loved the other board members she’s met and thinks Paula, Board President, is doing an excellent job, and that she “really cares and understands the landscape.”  

Though Theresa Ojala has been involved with boards throughout her life, she is new to CVCOA. About five years ago, she was introduced to a coalition with a mission of improving the health of communities through having nurses join boards.  Being a nurse herself and in the demographic CVCOA serves, when she saw a notice about joining the board in the CVCOA Impact Report, she thought it would be a natural fit.  Her role on the board allows her to engage in more of the community service that’s always been in her heart, for a demographic she is currently in and knows is sizeable and growing in Vermont.  She has been very impressed seeing all that CVCOA does and doesn’t think there is a true appreciation of all that the agency has to offer. In addition to her role on the board, Theresa is going to be facilitating several different programs for CVCOA on a voluntary basis, including Grateful Gatherings.  She is putting out the call for retired nurses to join boards as they are able, citing how useful their skill set could be to an organization.  For more information, check out  A favorite quote of Theresa’s by Mahatma Ghandi, which she evokes in reference to her role with CVCOA is “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” 

This is Paula Otenti’s fourth year being on the board, and she has been Board President since October 2023.  She got involved after seeing an announcement in Seven Days.  Having never been on a Board of Directors, she wanted to see what it was all about and was especially interested in being involved with older adults due to her experience caring for her mother.  As she says, its rewarding to get to use skills you have to improve the function of an organization.  In addition to being Board President, Paula has been active in CVCOA’s other programs, having cycled 33 miles the first year of Age Outdoors and delivering Creative Care Kits when needed.  Paula’s favorite part of being involved with CVCOA is interacting with the staff, who she says are “incredible, hardworking (and) knowledgeable but most of all . . . just friendly folks.” 

The Board has a couple openings for new members, particularly from Orange and Lamoille counties.  Why join?  Vermont is the third oldest state in the country, with one in three Vermonters set to be over 60 by 2030. As the population of older adults in Vermont grows, there is an even greater need for services to allow them to age in place and with dignity and choice.  Consider joining this group of passionate people to really make a difference.  All skills are welcome! Find more information here.