WHAT: "Healthy Aging & Community Building," a two-day event sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, to recognize senior citizens who are leaders and activists in their communities.
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14. Awards will be given out Saturday from 2-3 p.m.
WHO: The 35 Bay Area activists to be honored as California "Senior Leaders" include:
* Matile Rothschild, 68, co-founder of the first open support group in the country for lesbians. She is helping found the Rainbow Adult Community Housing project, which will provide a community center with a theater, café and adult day health care for San Francisco's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders.
* Maria Rifo, 95, secretary to Cesar Chavez for 12 years at United Farm Workers and co-founder of Alternatives to Violence, USA, a non-profit organization that offers workshops emphasizing respect and caring for each other.
* Chizu Iiyama, 80, who was forced into a Japanese internment camp with her family in World War II. She continues to speak regularly at schools and colleges about her experiences and the need to combat prejudice and racism in the wake of Sept. 11.
BACKGROUND: Funded by the California Wellness Foundation, the two-day event will highlight the important volunteer role of California's rapidly growing senior population. Honorees are actively involved in community projects, and their progress over the next two years will be followed by graduate students in public health.
"Seniors have been called our only expanding natural resource, yet society continues to cast them as burdens rather than the tremendous assets they are," said Meredith Minkler, professor of health education and gerontologist at UC Berkeley. "We hope this event helps dispel that stereotype."