Recreation director earns Jefferson Award for work with senior citizens

Tee Taylor is August's Jefferson Award recipient. 

FOX 31 continues to honor our local heroes with the Jefferson Awards.

The Jefferson Award is the nation’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service.

Tee Taylor is August’s recipient, and she’s been working for the community’s most senior members for nearly two decades. It all started with a drive home 19 years ago.

“I saw this senior citizen sitting on her porch in her rocking chair, and it was during lunchtime, and then I went by there again, and she was sitting in the chair the following day,” Taylor said. “And I said, ‘You know what, I’ve got to come up with some ideas to get them out of the house, to get them active in the community.’”

As the City of Albany’s Recreation Director, that’s just what Taylor has done.

She’s made it her mission to bring seniors together for events throughout the year, like Valentine’s bingo, Easter egg hunts and blanket drives, as well as senior citizen proms and breast cancer awareness lunches.

For her, everything starts with a personal connection.

“Some of them fear to come out, they tell me, but I ask them, ‘Give me a chance. Come out, and I’ll make you happy.’ And they’ve been coming ever since,” she said.

“Ms. Tee’s” events have developed quite the reputation from there, with many of them filling up fast.

“When I call them and say, ‘We have an event going on,’ they’ll call their friends, and their friends will call their friends,” she said.

She said she enjoys every event the department puts on, but she could name a favorite, if she had to.

“I think Christmas with Grandparents — the color, the beautiful green, yellow, red, all of that. I have to pick that, but I love them all,” she said.

The military veteran said her travels throughout the world have helped her appreciate what the Good Life City and its people have to offer.

“In here, you see the smiles. You see people greeting you,” she said. “I think that plays a big part because I like to smile! And I also like to talk.”

But Taylor said she gets even more from being on the other side of the conversation.

“If you just listen to what the community has to offer, what the community would like to see, and you might not give them everything, but just a portion,” she said.

Doing that offers Taylor all the reward she needs.

“When one stops you and wants to talk to you, you’re going to get a lot of knowledge,” she said. “So it’s just love from my heart for them. And I love doing what I do for them.”

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