Photo by Janice WaggOla Mae Rayford, 96, was the oldest female in attendance.
Senior Citizens Day
More than five years ago Rev. Andrew Cheairs had a vision of creating a way to honor, recognize, and bless the “Senior Citizens” of Marshall County.
From this vision has grown an annual event truly enjoyed and appreciated by all attendees. On March 30, the fifth annual Marshall County Senior Citizens Day was hosted by St. Paul M.B. Church. This wellorganized event was attended by more than 300 seniors throughout the county. Churches throughout the area join together to make this event a day of fun, prizes, and entertainment.
Volunteers were everywhere filling the needs of each attendee from directing parking, escorting seniors from their car with an umbrella, registration, seating, food, fellowship, and prizes. Each volunteer was cheerful and showed their enjoyment in blessing others.
The event was opened with a rendition of “He’s Calling Me” by Pastor John Powell of Jones Grove in Holly Springs, a Scripture reading by Pastor Gregory Hughes of St. Matthew in Byhalia, and a prayer by Minister Bobby Moragne of St. Paul.
First lady Gladys Cheairs introduced the emcee for the event, Sister Celesia Cowan from Sandhill Baptist Church in Lamar. Mayor Phil Malone of Byhalia welcomed the group, saying he was proud of every senior and appreciated what each one had done for the community. He acknowledged that things are not what they used to be and the leadership and wisdom of the seniors was vital.
The Theta Upsilon Chapter Alpha Sorority was on hand to entertain with several songs and help with all efforts throughout the day. The blessing of the meal was given by Pastor James Green from Finley Grove Baptist Church. An excellent meal of chicken, potatoes, vegetables, rolls and fruit was served the seniors.
Carol Robinson from the Commission on Aging presented one of the day’s honorees, Lieutenant Colonel William (Bill) Fitts of Byhalia, with a proclamation for his many years of military service along with extensive community service. Participating in the presentation were Mayor Malone and Kelvin Buck, mayor of Holly Springs. The donation given to Fitts for being an honoree was given back to Reverend Cheairs unopened to be used in the work of the church.
The introduction of the speaker, Mayor Buck, was given by Pastor Michael Gordon of Smith Grove M.B. Church of Holly Springs. Buck said wisdom did not just come from reading a book, but from life experiences that could be shared with young people who would listen. He believes senior citizens should celebrate a life lived well and the sacrifices made.
Some of the attendees had lived in a time when fields were plowed by mules, had attended one-room school houses, heated their homes with wood stoves and cooled them with the windows open using a fan, and grew their own food. Many walked everywhere they went or caught a ride with the only family in the area that owned a car. Church was the only place to go. Many of their families started the churches where they are still members.
The young people of today need to know “how we got to where we are,” he said.
He also recognized the volunteers, speakers, pastors, committees, AKA, and the Mayor’s Youth Council for the efforts put forth. He said the prizes and food were just a small “thank you” for all the seniors had done.
He strongly believes unity is of utmost importance, saying there is enough division in the nation, county, and churches “that holds us back.”
This annual event brings together churches, districts, and towns with everyone doing their part.
Judge Earnest Cunningham was presented a proclamation for his lifetime of service to Marshall County as sheriff, judge, and leader in various organizations. The presentation was made by Hughes along with Mayors Buck and Malone.
Thirteen attendees were age 90 or older with Ola Mae Rayford being the oldest female in attendance at age 96, and Leslie King being the oldest male in attendance at age 93. Odie Anderson was honored as the oldest male veteran in attendance at age 93.
Organizations present offering their services to the seniors were AARP and North Mississippi Legal Services. Throughout the day, drawings were interspersed with each grateful prize winner receiving a monetary gift to be used in the manner of their choosing. At the end of the event all leftover food was given to those who needed a plate to take home for a later meal. The long-time goal of Reverend Cheairs is to ensure every attendee receives a prize. All churches and senior citizens in Marshall County are welcome to participate in this outstanding event.