2015 Claude Pepper Award Recipients

Earnest Stean Pearson is the winner of the 2015 Claude Pepper Award in the retiree category.

Retiree category

Earnest Stean Pearson spent over 36 years as a nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., and is now a volunteer. Each year more than 20,000 people choose Hurley for their inpatient hospital care. It's the largest medical center in Genesee County and the region’s only Level 1 adult trauma center. The emergency department handles about 120,000 emergency cases a year. And it's also Flint’s only public safety-net hospital providing more than 66 percent of the community’s uncompensated health care.

As both a nurse and a volunteer, Earnest has been compassionate to patients and instrumental in supporting Hurley’s mission to the community. She’s also an exceptional cook. At her own expense, she prepares full-course meals for staff and patients several times a year. As an Acute Care of the Elderly volunteer, she provides companionship to patients 15 to 20 hours a week. She brings music and reads to them, and also helps with their personal grooming. Earnest dedicates her time to others and helps them live more productive lives.

Tom appel is the winner of the 2015 Claude Pepper Award in the working category.

Working category

Tom Appel’s community work gives new meaning to the term "senior advocacy." Since 2002, Tom has focused his volunteer efforts on improving the lives of older adults. He played pivotal roles at Senior Leadership of Grand Rapids, an organization dedicated to developing and empowering mature adults. He was the president of the State Employee Retiree Association. Tom was also the campaign chair on the public relations committee for the Kent County Senior Millage. The work he did there will enable more than 23,000 older adults a year to receive services in their own homes and communities.

His various leadership roles with AFSI, or Advocates for Senior Issues, have directly impacted 380 individuals. He encourages AFSI members through advocacy efforts, community engagement and educational opportunities. Tom has also lent his time to the Peace Corps, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Offices.

"One of the greatest things about retirement is that I can do whatever I want to do,” says Tom. He’s spent his life giving back to the community and hopes to help seniors remain independent for as long as possible.