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Sr. Edna Lonergan Wins AARP Purpose Prize

By January 14, 2020No Comments4 min read

Sr. Edna Lonergan, OSF, 77, is among the winners of the prestigious AARP Purpose Prize for her work as founder and president of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, a trailblazing day services center for people of all ages and abilities in Milwaukee.

The AARP Purpose Prize is the only national award that celebrates people 50-plus who are using their life experience to create social change. Each of five winners in the class of 2019-2020 received a $60,000 award. Additionally, AARP announced nine AARP Purpose Prize fellows, who were also honored at the Washington, D.C. gala for the mission-focused work of the organizations they each lead. Each fellow will receive a $5,000 award to further the mission of their organization.

The AARP Purpose Prize award gala was held in Washington, D.C. on November 12, 2019, and emceed by journalist and CBS contributor María Elena Salinas and commentator David Brooks, author of the bestselling The Second Mountain.

“AARP Purpose Prize winners and fellows have spent decades accumulating a wealth of knowledge that only life experience can bring. Armed with this wisdom, they tackle some of the greatest societal challenges of our time and are making a difference in their communities and further afield,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “We are proud to highlight their work with the AARP Purpose Prize award and to celebrate a new story of aging – one full of meaningful impact and limitless possibilities.”

This year’s AARP Purpose Prize Winners are:

Sister Edna Lonergan, 77 — Milwaukee, Wis. — St. Ann Center

  • Lonergan’s experience operating an adult day care facility in the 1980s where she was struck by the isolation many older people experience, inspired her to create an innovative approach to care that breaks down barriers of ageism and bonds generations. The result is the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, a day services center for people of all ages.

Georgette Bennett, 72 — New York, N.Y. — Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA)

  • A child of Holocaust survivors and a refugee herself, Bennett founded and leads MFA, the largest U.S. multifaith response to the Syrian crisis, comprising more than 100 faith-based and secular organizations committed to aiding Syrian war victims.

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, 56 — Mahopac, N.Y. — Latino U College Access (LUCA)

  • LUCA helps first-generation-to-college Latino students enroll in and graduate from college. Inspired after working in local nonprofit organizations and helping her own children apply to college, Buontempo saw a need for bilingual support to resource-challenged, Spanish-speaking families and students make their dreams of a college education a reality.

Paul Leon, 64 — Orange, Calif. — Illumination Foundation

  • While working as a critical care nurse, Leon witnessed firsthand the large number of children living on the streets with their families. A desire to help break the cycle of homelessness was the catalyst for him to start Illumination Foundation.

Wintley Phipps, 64 — Vero Beach, Fla. — U.S. Dream Academy

  • As a minister and gospel performer, Phipps spent much of his career doing prison ministry. In the wake of that work, he founded U.S. Dream Academy to serve the children of incarcerated parents, who themselves are often at risk of incarceration, to believe in themselves and to succeed.

For more on the AARP Purpose Prize Winners:

Sister Edna Lonergan:
Dr. Georgette Bennett:
Paul Leon:
Wintley A. Phipps:
Shirley Acevedo Buontempo:

This year’s AARP Purpose Prize Fellows are:

Im Ja Choi, 71
Philadelphia, Pa.
Penn Asian Senior Services 

Adele Della Torre, 65
Minneapolis, Minn.
Ready Set Smile

AnnMaria De Mars, 60
Santa Monica, Calif.
7 Generation Games

Linda B Eagan, 65
Fulton, N.Y.
Fulton Block Builders

Beth Ehrhardt, 63
West Valley City, Utah
Senior Charity Care Foundation

Gregg Kander, 58
Braddock, Pa.

Molly MacDonald, 68
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The Pink Fund

Vicki Sokolik, 58
Tampa, Fla.
Starting Right Now

Kirk Whisler, 67
San Diego, Calif.
Latino Literacy Now

For more on the AARP Purpose Prize, please visit:




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