Pat Koko: for 50 years, a volunteer extraordinaire in & around Oak Park

A decade ago, the longtime chairman of the Oak Park/River Forest Seniors Services Committee, Jim Flanagan, launched the Celebrating Seniors Coalition. Its mission: honoring, recognizing and serving seniors in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, Illinois.

From the outset, I have served as the group’s publicist.

Although Celebrating Seniors Week, held each May for a week, was nixed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has made strides with an updated, upgraded website.

In addition to providing more details and a better experience for visitors, the revamped website spotlights several key volunteers who have been especially active over the years. They include Flanagan, as well as Dr. Lydia Manning, Richard Harrison and Nick Preys.

Among these leading volunteers has been Pat Koko, who has received the organization’s Volunteer of the Year Award on multiple occasions.

In fact, I see Pat as the Oprah Winfrey of Celebrating Seniors. An explanation: while still a talk show host, Oprah took herself out of the running for Emmy Awards. Likewise, Pat could at least be a co-recipient of the award every year, and I would not be surprised if we eventually name the award in her honor. With energy, humor and steadfastness that are a powerful force, Pat is truly a volunteer extraordinaire.

A little more background about Pat:

Along with her husband, Paul, and their daughter, Marie, Pat moved to Oak Park in 1967. After she graduated from Dominican University (Rosary College at the time) with a degree in History, Pat volunteered to deliver meals to home-bound seniors for Oak Park Township. Thus began a dedicated 45-plus years of working with and for older adults in our communities.

For 20 years, Pat ran a home-care agency to provide assistance to seniors while she also served as a key volunteer with the Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry (now known as Beyond Hunger) for 17 years. Her community involvement has also included being among the founders of a networking group, the Senior Citizens’ Services Coordinating Council. The SCSCC still meets monthly to gather those who serve seniors to strengthen their professional development.

Pat Koko (left) poses with Sandra Rowe at the 2016 closing luncheon for Celebrating
Seniors Week. Both were recipients of that year’s Volunteer of the Year award.

In addition, Pat served as Administrative Secretary of The Community of Congregations, and was Executive Director of the Senior Citizens Center before being reappointed to the Oak Park-River Forest Senior Citizens Advisory Council.

Since Celebrating Seniors’ inception, Pat has been Treasurer and Resource Coordinator for the organization–but I think “Volunteer Extraordinaire” captures it pretty well, too.

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The River Forest Citizen Corps Wants You
Packing for Retirement and Beyond: Jim Flanagan’s Passion to Help Older Adults

‘Packing for Retirement’ & Beyond: Jim Flanagan’s Passion to Help Older Adults

Trying to make heads or tails of health care, with its seemingly endless changes and complexity, is enough to make just about anyone queasy.

Against that backdrop, a retirement planning expert who speaks with clarity and authority is the perfect antidote.

Jim Flanagan during a 2018 program at River Forest Public Library.

That’s one of the ways that Inside Edge PR introduces Jim Flanagan. In this instance, it’s the news release about his Health Care in Retirement presentation–one of nearly a dozen programs that he and his colleagues have delivered in numerous Chicago-area suburbs over the years.

The founder of Bentron Financial Group, Jim’s next Health Care in Retirement presentation is coming up on Wednesday, September 4th at the Berwyn Public Library.

His other programs include:

Affording Retirement
Financial Management in Retirement
Understanding Social Security: A Look at the Bigger Picture
Retire with Confidence
Essentials of Estate Planning
Can You Afford to Retire?
Packing for Retirement

For Jim, helping older adults isn’t just something he does for a living. It’s a lifelong passion that continues to grow. In 2016, he earned a Master of Arts Degree in Gerontology from the University of Southern California. Currently, he is pursuing doctoral studies in Leadership and Gerontology from Concordia University in River Forest.

He has been on the Oak Park/River Forest Township Senior Services Committee since 2005, serving as chairman since 2008. And in 2010, he founded the Celebrating Seniors Coalition, a not-for-profit organization that, among other services, helps seniors with emergency needs and raises public awareness of issues affecting seniors in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.

Overarching all of his endeavors, Jim is expert in just about anything you can imagine pertaining to finance, particularly as it intersects with retirement planning. He brought it all together earlier this year with the publication of Packing for Retirement: A Practical Guide to Prepare for Retirement at Any Age.

When you find the book on Amazon (accessible by clicking the link above), read the five-star reviews to get others’ impressions on the highly informative and helpful book.

Then do yourself a favor and purchase a copy. That singular decision may well be one of the best investments you ever make.

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The River Forest Citizen Corps Wants YOU

Last week, I had the honor of writing and distributing a news release on behalf of my friend, Jim Flanagan.

It bears the headline, “River Forest Citizen Corps Seeks to Educate, Enlist Volunteers for Emergency Preparedness.”

Over the past year or so, Jim has led a group of volunteers who have poured their time and energy into bracing for times of crisis. Special heads-up for those of you who reside in River Forest, there are two meetings later this month (Sept. 23 and Sept. 25) that will provide more details.

On a separate note, to learn a bit about how Jim serves those approaching or in retirement, through Bentron Financial Group, there is also a recent post about a free seminar that Jim is presenting on Oct. 2 in Lisle.

Related Posts:
‘Packing for Retirement’ & Beyond: Jim Flanagan’s Passion to Help Older Adults
Don’t Wait ’til News Breaks–Anticipate the Break, Break Through With Coverage