Citizen of the Year honors at last week’s Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony went to long-time Sisters resident and extraordinary volunteer Toni Landis.

“Her primary motivator in life has always been to help people,” Chamber Executive Director Judy Trego told the audience. “Whether it was art classes for children in Sisters, working with seniors as a State of Oregon ombudsman, or creating the Home Help Team to offer low-income and home-bound folks the home repairs and adaptations they need to continue living in their home, Toni is always looking out for others’ interests.”

She has also volunteered with the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Oregon Youth Build, and now heads up the transportation committee for Age Friendly Sisters Country. She also serves on the advisory council for the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, the first representative ever from Sisters.

Last year she stepped in to serve as the Council on Aging local staff person after the Senior Alliance (now Age Friendly Sisters Country) identified a lack of coordinated services for our community. She works with adults 60 and older needing assistance, information, and access to a variety of services. She has been working for decades to make Sisters an age-friendly community. She was instrumental in the shift from an emphasis on “seniors only” to a broader “age-friendly community” approach.

She believes, “What we do to improve transportation, emergency care, and an accessible environment for seniors will benefit moms with strollers, students needing flexible transportation, and anyone needing local emergency care. That is what makes a community age-friendly; it’s good for everyone.” (See related story page 10).

Before being named Citizen of the Year, Landis admits she had never thought of the word citizen as a defining attribute, but she does consider it a good word.

“Good citizens show respect for others and property, maintain an accepting attitude, help out, are responsible, listen, and act on behalf of others in need,” she said.

Landis has moved over 35 times in her life, living in two states and three countries, but she said Thursday evening, “Llamas brought me here, land gave me roots, but the people provided the center point around which I continue to revolve. This IS my community and I have lived here longer than anywhere else. I am truly content to age in place — THIS place.”

Landis thanked all the other citizens of Sisters, “who continue to show up, step up, take responsibility for underserved citizens, and respect and strengthen our diverse community. With all of us working together, Sisters will continue to embrace active and inclusive living for all ages and abilities.”