Royal Oaks' resident Ken Pierick receives Volunteer of the Year Award
Volunteer extraordinaire Ken Pierick has received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Leading Age Arizona. He is pictured here performing with his band, The Royalaires. This video celebrates Ken's award. See the photos of the staff, board, and family members who attended the award dinner to honor Ken.
Marketing Director Vicki Ullery summed up why she chose Ken Pierick to nominate: "Since the day Ken and his wife, Carol, moved in, they wanted to be involved. Ken's love of music led him to begin two musical groups that perform all over campus. His was the first hand raised whenever audio assistance was needed for our programs, since his previous volunteering was working with theater groups. He's simply amazing with his ideas and energy level. I couldn't be more excited that Leading Age Arizona also saw how special Ken is."
Read why Ken won this prestigious award:
Royal Oaks Resident Ken Pierick has perfect hearing….and yet he has become the champion of the hearing impaired at Royal Oaks. "Ken changed my life. I've been deaf in one ear since WWII," said resident Walter Oleszkowicz, "and the hearing in my other ear has gotten just as bad over the years. I was avoiding all the wonderful entertainment and informative classes we have in the auditorium because I couldn't hear the presenters due to my hearing loss. Thanks to Ken, I've got my life back." In fact, hundreds of lives have been enriched through Ken's efforts.
Hearing aids are limited in their use when background noise is an issue. Ken started the Auditorium Hearing Assistance Program, installing FM transmitters in our auditorium that work with wireless headsets, allowing residents to fully participate in music programs, lectures, and discussion groups, regardless of their hearing deficits. He held numerous workshops for residents to explain the system and then worked one-on-one for those who were unable to attend the workshops. He assembled a volunteer team who are responsible for checking out the receivers during auditorium programs, and created a contract for residents to sign who wanted to keep the receivers long-term. He sets up shop monthly to be the battery-tester guy, to ensure the receivers continue to work and provide enjoyment to residents who otherwise could not hear the programs. He's now taking this Hearing Assistance Program to our Chapel and other parts of the campus.
Ken's wife was so pleased with the Sennheiser headset system he installed in their apartment, allowing her to appreciate TV programs better, she started telling others about it and the word got around. Ken orders the systems online for residents who don't use the computer. He then installs them in the residents' apartments, so they too can have a happier audio experience in their own home and loud TV noises don't vibrate into the hallways.
Ken is currently working on a project with our technology staff that will allow residents who are unable to attend events in the auditorium in person to enjoy all programs through our closed-circuit TV system. Up until now, if a performer brought their own audio system and chose not to plug into our main system, residents viewing on the TV system couldn't hear the program, they could only see it. Ken researched options and discovered a work-around to this problem, which will be implemented this year.
How did Ken develop an interest in audio? Ken has an interesting left brain/right brain balance. With his right-brain, he manages and plays clarinet in two music groups on campus: The Royalaires and Take Note. Each month, those groups play in all the Assisted Living Centers and also entertain in the main lobby for independent residents, often drawing a standing-room only crowd. His engineering career kicks his left brain into action and that's where his mission to help residents hear more fully turned Ken into the "hearing guy" across our community. Ken gets joy out of the process of discovery—his engineering mind—and making people happy—his creative side. Thanks to Ken and his willingness to use his talents to enhance the quality of life for others.
Ken is in good company. Last year, Dick Herrmann from Royal Oaks won the Volunteer of the Year award. We are so fortunate to have such philanthropic residents.