Two Niagarans in top five of 50 over 50 list

Doug Rapelje, 84, of Welland, is one of two Niagarans being recognized by Ageworks for the work he continues to do. Listed in the top five of the organization’s Top 50 Over 50 list, Rapelje’s achievements are being highlighted as an example that age doesn’t define what sort of impact a person can make. (Laura Barton/Welland Tribune)

Doug Rapelje and Ted Mouradian are examples demonstrating that being a senior doesn’t mean being put out to pasture.

The two Niagarans are in the top five in Ageworks’ Top 50 Over 50 list. The inaugural highlights the accomplishments of people over the age of 50, aiming to show that age does not define what a person can accomplish.

And both Rapelje, 84, from Welland, and Mouradian, 70, from St. Catharines, have plenty of accomplishments to their names.

Although they speak to different issues they do also have a few things in common, such as having no intention of slowing down their work any time soon.

“I don’t think you can stop,” said Mouradian, who doesn’t plan on retiring.

He said he’s done a number of things over the years, but at present, he’s president of a consulting business called The 2% Factor and a motivational speaker who primarily addresses LGBTQ issues and bullying.

A big part of what he wants to help people understand is they can only control themselves and that people can have differing opinions without condemning one another or starting an argument.

“Why don’t we celebrate our sameness instead of fighting over our differences?” he said. “Why don’t we have a conversation?”

Beyond that, Mouradian said he lives his life according to his own code, wanting to enjoy every moment of the journey.

His way of seeing and functioning in the world comes from having essentially lived two totally different lives.

He came out as gay in 1989, but growing up said he fit the stereotypical jock archetype — looking down on others and overall not being the nicest person.

Coming out, he said, was an acknowledgement of his true self and it has led him to be more compassionate and understanding of others. He went from being the one targeting people for their differences to being the one targeted because he didn’t fit the status quo. But he’s not a victim, he said, and he wants to help others get beyond their victimization, too.

Rapelje continues to push on with his work despite his age, saying it annoys him when people ask when he’s going to slow down.

His career has been replete with advocacy for seniors, even from the time he was in his 20s. At the time, he was assistant county clerk and treasurer for the city and accompanied a provincial auditor to an old-age home where there were reports of the home’s matron and superintendent stealing from the residents. After seeing the conditions of that home, he wanted to work for and with seniors.

“I was really motivated by the deplorable conditions I saw,” he said, wanting to make a difference.

From there, he’s continued to work in the field in various ways. From giving talks across the country and internationally about seniors care, to being a part of the senior citizens advisory committee for Welland, to being involved with Niagara’s age-friendly community initiative and the development of its aging strategy and action plan.

As both Mouradian and Rapelje continue to plug away at their passions, they also acknowledge that many seniors make valuable contributions to today’s society.

“We tend to talk about seniors being a burden on the health-care system and really see them in a negative way,” Rapleje said.

He said seniors today are healthier and contribute more to society. Something such as the Ageworks initiative with its top 50 list, he said, highlights the different interests seniors have and the things they are able to achieve.

Mouradian agreed: “There are a lot of seniors out there that have a lot to offer.”

Source: Welland Tribune