On March 6, 2011, Honey (Anna) Zimmer died. She was 89 years old and one of my earlier mentors. I met Honey when I worked at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College in 1987, and we remained friends even after she retired in 2003 and moved to Maine. Honey was a pioneering social worker in the field of aging. She created some of the first support programs in the United States aimed at empowering elders and all those who care for them. Honey helped to create the model for the Brookdale National Group Respite Program that provides appropriate activities for people with dementia while offering respite and other supportive services to their caregivers. The Brookdale Foundation continues to provide seed grants and technical assistance to develop this model across the country; currently there are over 300 programs.
While following Honey’s last weeks via her CarePages and reading people’s comments, I discovered that many of my friends and colleagues also count Honey among their mentors. Reflecting on this, I became aware of two insights: (1) the obligation of mentoring and (2) the “power of one.”