The late Len Erker, who touched the lives of countless individuals and families in so many positive ways, and who helped create and championed Project C.A.R.E. , is the posthumous recipient of the 2013 George L. Maddox Award of the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.
The award, given earlier this month in Asheville, recognizes an individual or organization in North Carolina that has excelled in developing and implementing creative programs for older adults. The Maddox Award is named for Dr. George L. Maddox, who was a noted gerontologist and founding director of Duke University’s Long Term Care Resource Program.
Project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty) was established in 2001 as a federally funded demonstration program in four western North Carolina counties. It quickly became a nationally acclaimed service helping families caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. To learn more, go to: www.ncdhhs.gov/aging/ncprojectcare.htm. Erker shepherded the program that he believed had the potential to help the families he touched and through his mentoring of other professionals across the state.
Dennis Streets, director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services, presented the award to Erker’s widow, Nancy Ellen Fargo, and seven of the couple’s nine children, eight of whom were adopted from Ethiopia, Haiti, China and Vietnam. Streets spoke of Erker’s name being added to the division’s website for the award along with the 22 previous honorees.
“Len represented all of what was best in these other individuals,” Streets said. “He had the spirit, vision and dedication of Ann Johnson – one of our state’s aging pioneers; he showed the diplomacy and wisdom of Pat Capehart Brown, former chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging; and the integrity of the Rev. Dr. Robert Seymour, a champion of social justice.”
Erker, 65, was director of Respite for Project C.A.R.E. at the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville. He passed away on Aug. 10, 2013.