Excellence in Aging

City honors work with older adults.

The Alexandria Commission on Aging presented the 2024 Excellence in Aging Awards at a May 14 ceremony in the Vola Lawson Lobby of City Hall.

The Commission, which advocates for the needs of older residents in Alexandria, created the awards to honor individuals, regardless of age, and organizations that provide services to older Alexandrians or demonstrate superior contributions in advancing issues and projects that affect older residents.

“Since 1990, the Commission on Aging has honored those that have enhanced the lives of older Alexandrians,” said Commission chair Michael Schuster. “These awards recognize the exemplary work of individuals and an organization that are leaders in the aging community.”

Mayor Justin Wilson introduced the honorees and presented the awards noting that May is Older Americans Month.

Michael Schuster, chair of the Commission on Aging, introduces the Excellence in Aging Awardees May 14 at City Hall.  


“This is always a great honor to recognize folks and organizations who are committed to going above and beyond for our older Alexandrians,” Wilson said. “We believe it is absolutely critical that Alexandrians be able to thrive in this city from the cradle to the twilight of their lives.”

The Excellence in Aging Award honorees include: Bennie Blackley, honored with the Annie B. Rose Lifetime Achievement Award – presented to an individual who has served seniors for at least 10 years; W. Thomas Reeder, honored with the Lois Van Valkenburgh Excellence in Aging Award – presented to an individual citizen with at least one year of service to seniors; Southern Belle Cleaners, honored with the Excellence in Aging Award for an Organization – presented to an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to Alexandria seniors; and Barbara Ravenell, honored with the Public Service Award – presented to a city employee who has advanced, improved or otherwise contributed to making Alexandria a more livable community for all ages during the course of their job.

Reeder, who has provided volunteer tax and health care services to older adults for 19 years, was humbled by the recognition.

“I am extremely flattered to have my name associated with this lady,” said Reeder of the award named for Lois Van Valkenburgh, a prominent lobbyist, legislative aide and volunteer for many issues affecting Alexandrians. “I just appreciate the ability to provide direct services to residents and enjoy working with people who may want my expertise.”