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Champion of Senior Citizens to Speak at WFUBMC

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – An octogenarian who began championing senior citizens long before he became one will speak at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center on Monday, Sept. 24.
Dr. Elbert C. Cole, the 89-year-old founder of the Shepherd’s Centers of America who has spent the last 30 years motivating senior citizens to become active in the community, will speak to the Medical Center’s Ethics Committee members and other invited guests.
The Shepherd’s Centers of America are a network of interfaith, community-based organizations that provide meaning and purpose for adults throughout their mature years. Cole founded the Shepherd's Centers in 1975 in Kansas City, Mo., where he was serving as senior minister of a large midtown church. There are now more than 75 member organizations in 21 states, including centers in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.
While leading the Shepherd’s Centers effort, Cole also continued to care for his dementia-stricken wife – traveling around the nation with her by his side for 17 years before her death.
Cole will speak at a luncheon sponsored by the Elder Law Clinic, a project of the Medical Center and Wake Forest University School of Law. It will be held at the Comprehensive Cancer Center in the second floor conference rooms. Kate Mewhinney, a clinical law professor at Wake Forest, who is managing attorney of the Elder Law Clinic, was instrumental in arranging the visit. "In the law school's Elder Law Clinic, we are training our students to be advocates for older adults,” Mewhinney said. “But, of course, community advocates don't need a law degree to be effective. As a minister, Dr. Cole served his community and developed a vision for a better quality of life for older people. I know that this vision and energy will inspire our law students."
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,154 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

Cole was also recently awarded the first-ever Elder Leadership Award from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) at its national symposium held in May in Cleveland, Ohio. This award is designed to encourage and promote activism and involvement by elders for the betterment of the lives of others.
In a brief video of his life and works shown at the NAELA symposium, Cole is lauded as someone who reinforces the “dignity of human life.” He is currently writing two books and his new mission is to focus on world hunger. People working together can create miracles, he said, and the healing force of the world is “people working together for some common good.”

SPECIAL NOTE: Dr. Cole is available for interviews prior to his arrival in North Carolina.

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Media contact: Bonnie Davis, bdavis@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4977; or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,154 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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