Each year, the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc. celebrates individuals within its service area (Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca and Wyandot counties) who make a difference in their communities at their annual awards ceremony. There is one award recipient for each county in the Agency’s service area.
This award honors senior citizens who are making a difference in their communities and present a positive image of aging.
The Hespeler are in their 90s. Mrs. Hespeler stayed home to raise their five daughters, including the set of twins who were born first. After the children were grown, Mrs. Hespeler worked as a secretary. She didn’t get her driver’s license until her late 50s or 60s and then it was to mainly take the grandchildren swimming. Mrs. Hespeler is described as a social butterfly and loves flowers.
Mr. Hespeler owned a gas station on Benedict Avenue in Norwalk. After retiring from that, he worked for Don Tester Ford and at EHOVE Career Center. He also volunteered at the Red Cross blood bank. Fred played baseball for the Wakeman Red Caps when he was young. There is a marker today in Wakeman from the Ohio Historical Society located at the park on Main Street. Mr. Hespeler loved to keep an eye on local politics and the Huron County Commissioners.
They both enjoy their family, which has grown with nine grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and their first great-great grandchild who was born this past August.
This caring pair of volunteers has been instrumental in supporting and promoting Senior Enrichment Service’s Age Exchange program for many years.
Age Exchange is intergenerational program bringing first-, second- and third-graders and seniors together for after school mentoring. Age Exchange began in January 1993, and the Hespelers have been with the program nearly from the beginning.
“They have provided countless hours of guidance and mentoring to many young children,” agency officials stated in a press release announcing the award. “Their strength comes from the compassion that they show for not only the children, but everyone around them.
“These loving individuals are truly inspirational as they demonstrate how caring for our little ones can help to brighten the lives of our children each day. Senior Enrichment Services is so fortunate to have the two of them as part of the Age Exchange program. Some of the children that were mentored by Fred and Annabelle over the years have returned to visit them in their home. The smiles they bring to the children are priceless. The children are drawn to this couple by their positive attitudes that they always share, just as they have from the first day that they became part of the Age Exchange family.”