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In 1972, several Prince George’s County retirees ages 50-plus met at the Spaulding Library in District Heights to launch AARP Suitland Maryland Chapter #939. Today, that small group of active, engaged, and service-minded seniors has grown to more than 200 members representing the only chartered AARP Chapter in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
A Golden Celebration luncheon marking the organization’s 50th anniversary was held at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Md., on Friday, April 14. The occasion was attended by nearly 500 AARP members and guests who marked the event decked out in red and gold. Red for the signature AARP color represents a generation of active and energetic volunteers that are 50 and over; gold for the chapter’s 50th anniversary celebrating the organization’s past, present, and future.
Maryland legislators celebrate AARP Chapter #939
President Catherine Williamson proudly welcomed the Prince George’s County public officials that attended, including the organization’s honoree, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Others in attendance included Congressman Glenn Ivey, State Senators Joanne Benson and Karen Toles, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, Council Vice Chair Wala Blegay, and the recently appointed Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging Carmel Roques, to name a few.
A special presentation was made to the City of District Heights, Maryland, to recognize the town where the chapter was founded. Representatives from the town council joined in the presentation. Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes was presented with a Distinguished Service Award. She urged everyone to remember that despite attempts to erase Black history from classrooms across the country, ”the real Black history storytellers are gathered in this room. Tell your stories,” she demanded, “and help to keep our history and legacy alive.”
Improving the quality of life for residents
Williamson said that for the past 50 years, Chapter #939 “has a thirst to improve the qualify of life for seniors after retirement” and that the members are committed to the AARP theme “to serve and not to be served.” She oversees the organization’s 10 committees that address various issues ranging from health and wellness to legislation, information technology, and safe driving. The chapter has also provided thousands of dollars in scholarships to Prince George’s Country students.
In addition to a 72-page souvenir program filled with congratulatory ads, AARP’s National President Michelle Becote-Jackson and Maryland State Presidents Jim Campbell and Hank Greenberg presented the chapter with a ceremonial certificate recognizing its 50th birthday.
When County Executive Alsobrooks shared stories of her ancestors and their roles in shaping her decisions about life and career, she looked down from the stage and noted,” This place looks like something other than a day luncheon; this is a day party,” she joked. When the fanfare was over, WHUR Radio Host and Mistress of Ceremony Tracina Grey instructed DJ Nate to let the music, dancing, and fellowship begin; and so it did.