Tags: Orland Park Public Library
OP senior recognized for lifetime of worldwide service
June 08, 2009 | 03:49 AM
She spent more than two years in Nepal with natives in need of vaccines. There were no roads. There were epidemics. And she started it all just before her 60th birthday.
Orland Park resident Dr. Catherine Taylor Foster served in the Peace Corp from 1996-98, and though she's served her full term, she hasn't given up the cause. She continues to encourage people to volunteer for the Peace Corps at speaking engagements, one of which she'll hold at the Orland Park Public Library at the end of this month.
In recognition of her service, with particular regard to her age, Foster was the 2009 recipient of the Lillian Carter Award.
"Very few people receive this award," said Orland Mayor Dan McLaughlin, at a brief ceremony honoring Foster at the Monday, June 1 Village Board meeting. "She's done a lot in our village, too, not just with the Peace Corp."
The award is granted every two years to a senior who worked toward goals of the Peace Corp after service and increased the understanding of other people about the organization.
"They have a drive now to encourage seniors to join the Peace Corp," Foster said. "Helping those in need has no age limits and no borders. Whether age 60 or 16, we have the power to make a difference, both near and far."
While in Nepal, Foster assisted in administering a Polio vaccine, and taught the natives how to wash their hands, the importance of green vegetables and the necessity of boiling water before drinking it. She saw babies born at the nearest hospital — three hours away from where she was stationed — where there were just nine in-patient beds.
"The greatest gift I could give to the Nepalese people was the benefit of my years of health and nursing experience," she said. "I saw just about everything."
Prior to her time in Nepal, she served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corp for 25 years, and worked all over the United States and in other countries.
She's also classified by her colleagues as a global humanitarian and has earned the title of foundation trustee, Fulbright Senior Scholar, and World Health Organization consultant.
Not to mention she climbed Mount Everest at the age of 61 and met Mother Teresa while assisting orphans in Calcutta.
Overall, Foster has completed over 30 international medical and humanitarian missions, and at age 72, is already planning her next volunteer project — probably in Africa.
Locally, she volunteers every week at the local Veterans Administration hospital, Orland Park Library, Orland Grasslands, American Legion Honor Guard and Orland Park Veterans' Commission.
"I was honored to receive such a prestigious award," she said. "I couldn't have done it without God and my family and friends."
Foster will speak more about her experiences at the Orland Park Public Library Monday, June 29, at 6 p.m. The library is located at 14921 Ravinia Ave. in Orland Park.
To reach Jamie at email@example.com.