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Local AARP chapter celebrates its 20th birthday

Bonnie Bucy Living Writer • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:58 PM

AARP Chapter 5023 celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday night with a banquet at the Wilson County Senior Citizens Center in Lebanon. 

Noted personality and Lebanon native Ruth Wharton was the speaker for the affair.

Current president Betty Cantrell kicked off the festivities by introducing Liz Reese, director of Brooks House, as emcee for the evening. Reese thanked the national and state AARP organizations for their “help all along the way,” and then introduced Catherine White who “welcomed everybody to their 20th year celebration”

Michael Neal performed a rendention of “Moon River” preceding the introduction of Brian McDonald, director of Hearthside, who blessed the food.

Dinner was served by Grand “Ma’s” Table, which catered the country meal that consisted of fried chicken breast doctored with lemon pepper and country gravy; green beans topped with fresh onions; red potatoes; tossed salad with vinaigrette or ranch dressing; rolls with honey/cinnamon butter; warm peach cobbler; tea, coffee or water and a sheet cake that read “20 years.” 

Mayor Philip Craighead, on behalf of the co-sponsoring city of Lebanon, acted as “drink server” for the dinner.  

Following dinner, Neal sang another number.

Reese brought up charter member Oleta Winfree, who introduced AARP volunteer Wharton as the speaker.

“It is so good to be here and see so many familiar faces and so many heads of gray,” said Wharton in opening, which brought a laugh from the audience.

Wharton told about the founding of AARP and how it is not political, but rather non-partisan. She went on to relate that the aged/AARP was not at the top of the totem pole in protections and government programs, and one day they were going to wake up and truly realize just how many seniors there are out there.

“Handicap ramps are nowhere near up to the needs of the elderly,” Wharton said. “Gallatin Road is a perfect example of how many people are scrambling to get across that street. They may need to do an audit or research program in Wilson County on how many streets here are in need of redefining. 

“We also want to make sure Social Security is protected. We need to have more inner-generational programs, and then we need to partner with other groups. In other words, AARP still has a lot of work to do, and we need all the help we can get.

“I figure it’s going to be a great day if I wake up, get up and speak up.”

To which Reese responded when she came back to the microphone, “ I’m going to make a commitment to be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud everyday.”

Josephine Searcy presented citations to former presidents, including the late Lloyd Kinkaid, Mary Katherine Graves, Jo Grafton, Bob Hansen, Don Sheperd, Rufus McAdoo, Ada Midgett, Faye Dedman, Bernie Kane, Pauline Holmes and Betty Cantrell. Several were unable to make the banquet. Subsequently, Jelani Holmes, Pauline Holmes’ son, accepted her award. Grafton’s certificate was accepted by Craighead.

Ruth Cato was presented with a certificate of thanks and appreciation for her many years of “exemplary contributions of space and work.”

The banquet attendees cleared out a few minutes before 7 p.m. to beat the severe rainstorm that arrived about 30 minutes later.

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