Aroostook Agency on Aging honors longtime employee

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Rev. Dr. Ken Phelps, president of the board of the Aroostook Agency on Aging, recently acknowledged Sharon Berz of Limestone for an outstanding 45-year career in service to others throughout northern Maine. 

During the agency’s Oct. 6 annual meeting, Phelps called Berz, who retired in September as director of long-term services and supports, an expert on the many needs and challenges faced by Aroostook’s disabled, older adults, and caregivers. 

Phelps presented a John Holub framed print, praising her dedication and commitment.

“On behalf of the board, staff, volunteers, and most importantly the many impacted by her care, skill and wisdom, thank you, Sharon, for your many contributions to our Aroostook County community,” he said.

Ruth White, manager, service coordination, shared a few words on behalf of staff, volunteers and the many consumers, noting Berz’ compassion, empathy, guidance, encouragement, and nurturing ways in helping in a scary and unfamiliar time of pandemic. 

“You’ve helped us navigate becoming a caregiver as well as giving encouragement in being a caregiver. We are forever indebted to you. Your heart is bigger than Aroostook County and your angel wings protect all you touch. Wishing you all the best, always,” White added. 

Part of a large French family, Berz grew up surrounded by music, part of a kitchen band singing through the generations. 

“The most essential element in helping others is to have a listening ear and compassionate heart,” she said. 

Berz urged her co-workers to “gather around the kitchen table, sing, dance, tap your toes, listen, and take care of each other.” 

“Social work is hard. It is emotionally draining,” she said. “We are here on earth to support one another. Care starts with us. Together we are the seeds of strength in a big community of need.” 

Berz joined the agency in 1976 in an outreach capacity. Since that time, she served in a variety of roles touching basically every aspect of the organization and playing an integral role in the development of the agency as a whole. 

She received training through the National Paralegal Institute. She also received her associate’s degree in mental health from the University of Maine in Orono, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and a master’s in social work from the University of New England. 

A licensed clinical social worker, Berz also holds a graduate certificate in gerontology from the University of New England and is a Fellow of the Maine Gerontological Society. 

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