Buckner Villas resident Anna Gatti has lived an exciting, adventurous life. And at 91, she’s no where near slowing down.
She has lived all over the world – Lebanon, Belgium, the Dominican Republic and Israel to name a few – but now she spends her time volunteering with Austin Group for the Elderly (AGE) and enjoying life with her friends at Buckner Villas.
Gatti’s husband was in the diplomatic service for 33 years, which led to some exciting adventures – and cultural snafus she still laughs about today.
“I was not very diplomatic,” she says, laughing. “My husband was the diplomat, I was not. (The French) would ask ‘how do you like French food?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh, it’s delicious, but you know, I think Belgian food is even better,’ and my husband looked at me with daggers.”
Gatti received the Willie Kocurek Vital Aging Award in April for her volunteerism with AGE, something that shocked her and left her “flabbergasted.”
“I had no idea,” she says. “I feel very honored, obviously. I still can’t quite fully comprehend it.”
The award honors older community members who exemplify the concept of vital aging and who are accomplished in the area of self-determination, self-sufficiency, civic engagement and quality of life.
According to others, she shouldn’t be surprised and has earned very part of the award. She takes the bus to volunteer several times a week and makes three transfers. She then walks a third of a mile to the office.
But that doesn’t seem to faze her. “I read. And the drivers are so helpful and friendly. They’re terrific.”
That’s one of the things Gatti loves so much about her work – the people.
“My boss is a fabulous lady,” she says. “It’s a fun place. There’s old people, there’s young people. They get interns from the University of Texas, and there’s always something going on. It keeps me active. It keeps my brain going, functioning.”
While at AGE, she files papers, makes copies, updates files, takes notes for the executive director, deposits checks and whatever else needs to be done. Before working for the executive director, she worked in the computer lab, a job she “hated.”
“I hate computers,” she says, laughing. “I think they’re the pain of the universe. They should have never been invented.”
“Anna exemplifies the active, giving culture at Buckner Villas,” Executive Director Doyle Antle says. “We have so many seniors who have lived full lives and now they want to give back to their community as a way of saying ‘thanks.’ I learn something from them every day.”