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Turlock senior honored for philanthropic efforts
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Turlock resident Myrna Wachs was selected as the District 2 Senior Award Winner by the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging for her philanthropic efforts. - photo by Photo Contributed

Myrna Wachs may not be superwoman, but she is pretty darn close.

At 78 years old Wachs works part-time, volunteers at several diverse nonprofits, and is an active member of her synagogue in Modesto.  Wachs’ giving heart and devotion to helping others recently earned her the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging’s Senior Award for District 2. Joyce Gandelman, the attorney and executive director of the Senior Law Project where Wachs works, nominated her for the award.

“I was surprised. I said ‘Joyce I don’t do that much!’ and she said, ‘are you kidding?’” recalled Wachs.

The Senior Law Project, which is partly funded by the commission, allows Wachs to help other seniors with free legal help.  Although she started as a volunteer, Wachs now works part-time as the attorneys and paralegals are training her to do advocacy work for seniors that need help with Social Security and credit card debt.

“It’s a fabulous agency because there are so many seniors that really can’t afford to pay a lawyer and we do so many things to help them out and it’s free,” said Wachs.

When she isn’t working part-time, Wachs keeps busy by volunteering with several local agencies. In the winter she helps feed homeless men through the Democratic Club and in the summer she can be found at the Turlock Farmers’ Market helping to register people to vote. As an active member of Congregation Beth Shalom she is chairperson of a committee that serves to visit the sick and dying. She also drives other seniors around that have vision problems, and organizes the synagogue’s springtime bake sale and fair Café Shalom.

“It’s huge. It takes months of planning, organizing, and baking,” said Wachs of the event.

Wachs also is on the committee for the International Violence Against Women Act which has visited Congressman Jeff Denham’s (R – Turlock) and was able to get Denham to co-sponsor the bipartisan bill.

“I’m 78 years old and I’m kind of busy,” laughed Wachs.

So why does she give so much of her time?

Wachs said it keeps her active and mentally sharp. Plus, it feels good to give back.

“It just feels like I need to do it. I like to help people,” said Wachs. “I just put myself in their position and if I was handicapped or disabled, I would hope that someone would help me.”

Wachs will receive her award alongside the other district winners at the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 19.