HAMLET – Senior veterans gathered at the Cole Auditorium on Richmond Community College’s campus Thursday for lunch, entertainment and a variety of information.
Veterans, aged 55 and older, were welcomed to the event at no charge.
Jacqueline Welch, executive director of Richmond County Aging Services, she stated the event first began in September, 2015. The event takes place three times each year, alternating between the Cole, the Senior Center in East Rockingham and the Senior Center in Ellerbe.
“This time we wanted to do something extra special for the senior veterans which would allow more room for participants,” Welch said.
The Cole Auditorium was chosen and would allow them to serve up to 150 people for lunch. Perdue donated the chicken, which was served for lunch. Freedom Baptist Church Brotherhood 10-10-10 Ministries did the cooking, and also provided all the sides to go along with the meals.
Welch opened with a speech discussing the event details, then the National Anthem was played, with the Pledge of Allegiance following. Tess Holtzapfel from the Community Patriot Arts Center then took the podium. She explained the non-profit organization encourages veterans and families of veterans to pursue their artistic abilities through creative expression: drawing, painting, singing and playing musical instruments.
Dennis Holloway with the NC Baptist Men was next to speak. He began by stating, “my primary goal in life is to help people.” He went on to discuss the needs in Florida, as well as Puerto Rico, due to the recent hurricane devastation. Holloway invited everyone that could to reach out in any way possible and help.
Pastor Ronnie McLean, of Freedom Baptist Church, ended the opening ceremony by blessing the food in which students from Richmond Senior High School’s JROTC helped serve. Entertainment was provided during lunch by The Chris Sorrell’s Project. Sorrell is a veteran participant through the Community Patriot Arts Center.
After lunch the Folding Ceremony was held, in which Holloway, Johnny Autry, Johnny Patrick, and a few others performed. Robin Roberts, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, gave a short speech thereafter.
Among the many vendors at the event was a representative aid to Senator Thom Tillis, who answered questions anyone may have. and there were more than 20 vendors and booths set up at the event to provide information for the veterans.
Included in these booths were Lowe’s, which was set up to help veterans sign up for the 10% military discount Lowe’s offers, VFW Post, Hamlet Police Department, North Carolina Wildlife (many divisions), American Red Cross, ART (Area Richmond Transit), Department of Social Services, Community Home Care and Hospice, Humana, Purple Heart Association, and a several more. Door prizes provided by vendors were also given out.
The senior centers in Richmond County offer many services and activities throughout the year. Volunteers are currently needed, with an immediate need for volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program. For anyone interested in volunteering, call (910) 997-4491 or on the web at www.richmondnc.com and search the aging services department.