Sharon Aquilla (left) holds her award next to Victory Villa Director Karen McDonough (right).

MIDDLE RIVER— Sharon Aquilla is known around Victory Villa Senior Center as a volunteer who selflessly gives her time and energy to ensure the center is a thriving and welcoming place for its members—and now she is finally getting recognized for her vital volunteer work.

Baltimore County Department of Aging’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has awarded Aquilla for her volunteer efforts at the Victory Villa Senior Center with one of their five RSVP Outstanding Volunteer Awards for 2020.

Since 2013, after Aquilla retired from being a medical assistant, she joined Victory Villa. At first, she stated volunteering just one day a week at the front desk. Now she does much, much more.

Aquilla has helped obtain donations for fundraisers, assisted with the travel committee, lead craft classes, organize special events, attended community meetings to advocate on the behalf of the Department of Aging, and has been the treasurer and assistant treasurer for the Victory Villa Senior Center Council.

“I was shocked to hear I won because I think other people have done just as much or more than me. I am not the only volunteer there by any means,” Aquilla humbly said.

“Everybody there is just so friendly. I miss everybody and can’t wait to see them again. I’ve been calling people and talking on the phone and just staying busy and keeping myself occupied at home.”

Karen McDonough, the center’s Director who nominated Aquilla, says her unwavering willingness to do whatever, for whomever is an inspiration to others.

“Sharon is an invaluable volunteer at Victory Villa. She gives with kindness and compassion, without expecting to receive anything in return. She is very humble, so most of her good deeds come to the attention of others through observations and conversations,” McDonough said.

McDonough said Aqilla’s kindness extends beyond the walls of the senior center. She provides transportation to those who need a lift, prepares food for gatherings and provides assistance to those caring for a loved one.

Coping with COVID

Since Victory Villa, as well as all senior centers in the county, closed back in March due to COVID-19, McDonough said the center has been providing virtual events and calling members to check in on them to help people stay connected while being apart.

“The virtual programs are great and there are people taking advantage of them but I think many of our seniors, especially ones at Victory Villa, Essex and Rosedale, just don’t have the technology,” McDonough said.

McDonough said she hopes Victory Villa can do a restaurant initiative event which would be a safe, socially distanced outdoor event where local restaurants provide meals to the center to give its members.

“It would help the restaurants as well as the members. Baltimore County would actually pay the restaurants for it. The Department of Aging has done this at Lansdowne and Fleming senior centers,” McDonogh said.

McDonough said since the center will not reopen until Governor Hogan lifts the state of emergency, she is encouraging her members to stay connected with others by calling, emailing or messaging through social media.

“Just stay connected, stay active not only with your body but with your mind. Eventually we will all be back together even though it may be a little while,” McDonough said.

“If you need to talk to anybody you can always contact your senior center staff. Your senior center staff is always thinking about you, hoping that you are staying safe and well.”

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