The Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance (SEAPA) recently honored the College of Public Health's Institute of Protective Services with several Hornbrook Memorial Awards.
Ronald W. Costen, a professor and director of the institute, received the individual award, while Linda Mill, investigations manager, and Allison Benkert, financial crimes investigator, received the group awards. The Institute of Protective Services provides educational opportunities and investigative consultation to the Commonwealth´s 52 area agencies on aging and local law enforcement.
The awards are named in honor of John J. Hornbrook of Pottsville, PA, who donated a third of his estate in perpetual charitable trust to SEAPA.
The nonprofit SEAPA has pursued key objectives over the last 10 years: promote awareness of elder abuse in Schuylkill County; provide education and training to various groups on how to identify, prevent and report elder abuse; and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against the elderly.
“It was an idea that came about when a local attorney, Eric Mika, noticed that seniors were being exploited financially,” said said Georgene Fedoriska, SEAPA co-chairwoman and executive administrator for the county office of senior services. "Mika contacted then-Commissioner Mantura M. Gallagher, who explored the idea of such an organization with Marie Beauchamp, then-director of the county office of senior services."
It was then that the steering committee known as the Schuylkill County Elder Abuse Task Force was established. When the organization was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2007, the name changed to SEAPA. It now consists of 30 members that includes representatives from the banking industry, clergy, long-term care, law enforcement, funeral directors, health care and education.
“We wanted to embrace and empower seniors to stand up for themselves and if they couldn’t stand up for themselves, that there would be entities that would help them stand up,” Fedoriska said. “For the last 10 years, we hope that showed in the programs we provided,”