TRAVERSE CITY — A Cedar resident who created a website to help senior citizens in northern Michigan is the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Senior of the National Cherry Festival award.
Mike Sheehan, 74, said he and his wife were surprised he received the award this week, given extensive accomplishments of other candidates also considered for the honor.
“I was actually very surprised,” Sheehan said, adding he doesn’t seek recognition for his achievements.
“That’s the way I was raised,” Sheehan said.
But Sheehan certainly has accomplished a lot. The former monk taught English at City College of Chicago and retired in 1994. He moved to northern Michigan and founded the website The Senior Corner, which came on-line in 1995. It provides basic information to seniors about medical, social and transportation issues.
The website was a pioneer, given the timing of its creation: the Internet was just a baby then, and many seniors were not computer-literate at the time.
“I am proud of it,” Sheehan said. “No one else was doing that. It was about two years after the Internet was released to the public and a lot of the people at that time wouldn’t even touch a computer.”
The website is now maintained by the Grand Traverse Commission on Aging.
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Sheehan to the Commission on Services to the Aging and he became the chairman of the State Advisory Council on Aging. Sheehan has authored 10 books and hosts a call-in radio program on WTCM-AM 580 called “Words to the Wise.”
Patti DeAgostino is the National Cherry Festival Director of Senior and Intergenerational Events. She said Sheehan is especially deserving of the award given his humble nature and commitment to community.
“Distinguished is certainly appropriate for Mike,” she said.