A local advocate for seniors was recognized last week by the Office of the Borough Mayor for her work on behalf of that community, and other vulnerable Alaskans.
Nona Safra sits on the board of the Alaska Commission on Aging, has volunteered for a number of years with the Anchor Point VFW Post 10221 Auxiliary, and served on the Anchor Point Senior Center board of directors. After moving from Anchor Point to Homer, she also joined the American Legion Post 16 Auxiliary.
Safra was recognized in a small ceremony last Wednesday at the Homer Chamber of Commerce, where she received an exemplary service award from Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce for her “exceptional professionalism, commitment to the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the State of Alaska’s senior citizens, Alaskans with disabilities, rural Alaskans, lower income Alaskans, (and) Native Alaskans.”
“Many of us in the room here today could say that we’ve probably worked on a project or two with this lady,” Pierce said.
He said Safra’s hard work and dedicated time is a credit to her both as a professional and on a personal level.
Peter Zuyus is executive director of the nonprofit Seniors of Alaska. He co-hosted the event with the chamber, and has worked with Safra for a number of years on projects specifically benefiting seniors.
“Her efforts and tireless work to improve the lives of Alaska’s seniors, disabled, rural, low income Alaskans is nothing short of amazing,” Zuyus said. “Nona has made, and is making, a difference.”
He also thanked her for the work she’s done regarding messaging with Seniors of Alaska to let seniors know about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Homer Mayor Castner made a mayoral recognition of Safra’s work at the March 8 Homer City Council meeting. He also spoke at last Wednesday’s event, and thanked Safra for her volunteer work in the Homer community.
“I have to say, you know, coming from a town like Homer, we’re surrounded by great volunteers,” Castner said. “… We wouldn’t have the community that we have without people willing to step up and do things for free, you know, out of the goodness of their heart.”
Castner thanked Safra for becoming a volunteer for the Homer community.
Homer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brad Anderson thanked Safra for being a resource when he first arrived in Homer, helping fill him in on the area’s history.
Safra described meeting former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she was 4 years old, an event that would continue to inspire her years later. Roosevelt became one of Safra’s first “sheros,” she said.
“From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be like her, and I wanted to grow up and make a difference,” Safra said.
She said all the projects and her work that was mentioned at the event were the result of working with good people “who care about community.”
“None of this would be possible without the efforts of so many people who allow me to be part of the work,” she said.
Safra shared a favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a great deal of thought into the happiness that you’re able to give.”
Safra said that quote is relevant today.
“That type of happiness is accomplished when the work is done side by side with others in your community,” she said. “It makes it a better place to live, to work, to play and to thrive.”
Safra said she’s touched by the recognition of her work, and looks forward to the opportunity to do more.
“Because there’s much more to be done as we come out of COVID,” she said. “And you know, to make the word a better place.”
Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) and Alaska Commission on Aging Chair Gordon Glaser submitted letters honoring and thanking Safra for her work, which Anderson read aloud at the event.
“You have found seniors where they only saw despair,” Glaser’s letter said. “Thank you for helping the Alaska Commission on Aging achieve its mission to ensure the dignity and independence of all older Alaskans, and to assist them to lead useful and meaningful lives.”