Celebrating Senior Champions Creating a Better Life for Seniors


SR_CHAMPS RBleier_Portrait

Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl champion, Rocky Bleier

Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl champion, Rocky Bleier will serve as master of ceremonies when UPMC Senior Services honors extraordinary individuals and organizations who contribute significant time and energy to serving seniors throughout Western Pennsylvania.   To celebrate and support the UPMC Senior Communities Benevolent Care Fund, more than 400 business leaders, physicians and supporters of senior causes will gather on Wednesday October 26, for the Eighth Annual Celebrating Senior Champions Dinner and Auction at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

“Celebrating healthy aging, healthy living and healthy communities, we are pleased to recognize three awardees who have gone above and beyond to make our region a better place to age,” says Deborah Brodine, President of UPMC Community Provider Services.

SR_CHAMPS Dr Resnick close upNeil M. Resnick, MD will be honored as the Grand Champion.  Dr. Resnick leads one of the largest and most innovative geriatric programs in the country with more board-certified geriatricians than nearly any program and a wide array of senior services and an extensive research portfolio.

Dr. Resnick, Thomas Detre Professor and Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, also serves as Associate Director of the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatrics.  His expertise has been recognized by inclusion in “Best Doctor” lists both locally and nationally as well as by awards from the NIH, International Continence Society, Society for General Internal Medicine, and American Urological Association.  More recently, Dr. Resnick and his colleagues have been working to re-engineer geriatric care. Their goal is not only to improve it, but also to make it more feasible for non-geriatricians to provide.

Dr. Karen Feinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, is a long-time colleague and collaborator of Dr. Resnick’s who says, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dr. Resnick on a number of projects aimed at improving geriatric care. Neil is relentless in his pursuit of compassionate, safe, reliable care for seniors. It’s a calling of love, not duty, and he has never wavered in his conviction that geriatric medicine is his life’s work.”

SR_CHAMPS_WITHERS_JIM_MD_20160321-030James S. Withers, MD and Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net will be honored as the Community Champion.  Operation Safety Net, Pittsburgh Mercy’s award-winning, innovative medical and social service outreach program for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness, was founded in 1992 by internal medicine physician Dr. James Withers.

As part of Pittsburgh Mercy and Trinity Health, serving in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, Operation Safety Net delivers integrated healthcare, case management, housing follow up, and other vital health and human services to individuals living on the streets of Pittsburgh.  Approximately 1 in every 22 homeless individuals is a senior citizen, with numbers expected to increase substantially in upcoming years.  To date, Operation Safety Net has reached approximately 10,000 individuals with more than 68,000 visits and helped more than 1,200 individuals who were once homeless to find homes of their own. Dr. Withers, whose interest in service-oriented medicine grew in the course of medical missions to Central America and India, continues to serve as the organization’s medical director.

Pittsburgh Mercy board member James A. Malanos of Baker Young Corporation attests, “The homeless, addicted, and mentally ill are invisible to most people, but Dr. Withers and his staff see them as individuals, and treat them accordingly, with dignity and respect as they provide healthcare to the neediest among us.”

SR_CHAMPS Dr Elaine BerkowitzElaine H. Berkowitz, DMD will be honored as the Caregiver Champion.  Dr. Berkowitz practices geriatric and special needs dentistry in private homes, nursing homes, personal care homes, rehabilitation hospitals and general hospitals, bringing essential oral care to the home-bound. She has been distinguished as one of Pittsburgh’s top dentists.

Dr. Berkowitz retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with 38 years of service in the United States Army Reserves.  She completed four deployments and received numerous medals and distinctions.  A member of several military and dental organizations, she is active in the Reserve Officers Association, the Military Order of World Wars, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Dental Association and Special Advocates in Dentistry.  She recently received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Prizren in Kosova, an award previously bestowed upon Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

Major General Rodney D. Ruddock, now an Indiana County Commissioner, served in the military with Dr. Berkowitz and has this to say, “Here’s all you need to know about Elaine –she extended her military service beyond retirement four times. She has a willingness to do what is required to get the job done, especially when difficult, and does so with the same loyalty and respect she extends to her own family.”

All proceeds from the Celebrating Senior Champions Dinner and Auction will benefit UPMC Senior Communities Benevolent Care Fund, which provides financial assistance and support services to eligible seniors.  For more information about the event, contact Debra Panei, Director of Development for UPMC Senior Services, at 412-864-3524 or PaneiD@upmc.edu.

Tickets on sale NOW!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016 ♦ Omni William Penn Hotel


5:30 P.M. Reception, Silent Auction and Diamond Give-Away

7:00 P.M. Dinner and Program


For reservations, congratulatory advertisement placement

or to donate silent auction items phone 412-864-3524


Proceeds benefit the Benevolent Care Fund of

UPMC Senior Communities


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