The Roseboro Senior Citizens will celebrate their 40th anniversary Feb. 5, and for this special group, the day will be bittersweet as it may possibly be their last anniversay they get to celebrate together.
Started back in 1972 at the suggestion of Roseboro United Methodist’s then pastor, the Rev. Richard Blankenhorn, the Roseboro Senior Citizens began as a way to minister to the community. “The pastor thought a community group would be beneficial and we were willing to give it a try,” shared Tommie Wrench, longtime organizer of the group that’s always met in the fellowship hall of the Roseboro United Methodist Church.
Despite its name, the group has always been open to anyone. “It was not just for those in Roseboro. You could come from Clinton, Autryville, Beaver Dam, or wherever if you wanted to join the group,” said Wrench, adding that since it’s been open to one and all, the group doesn’t really have members and there’s never been any dues to pay.
“We started out with around 15 people coming, then the number grew to near 50. We’ve always celebrated every anniversary since the beginning, and at anniversaries, we could have up to 75 people attend,” said Wrench.
Originally, the senior citizens met weekly. “In the early years, we’d make crafts, sit around and quilt, makes flower arrangements to take to the shut-ins. We went on some nice trips to Wilmington, Raleigh, and White Lake. We’d invite speakers to come and talk. We’d ask local politicians to come and speak about their platforms. We’ve always asked to the mayor to come. Really anyone who had something to offer was invited to come speak,” shared Wrench.
“There was also always a devotional and some music and singing. People had fun requesting their favorite songs,” Wrench recalled. “With the music, things were always more lively.”
As time passed, meetings were eventually changed from weekly to monthly. “Our numbers have declined over the years, especially in the past few years. The older ones who participated have left us; they’ve either passed away or can longer come out to the meetings,” explained Wrench. “Those who have been a part of the group and worked to keep it going all these years are regretful and sad that it might end. I think it’s just run its cycle.”
Current coordinator of the Roseboro Senior Citizens, Sandy Meece, agreed that the group seems to have “run its course.”
“Forty years ago this was a good program, but it was during a time when community and church were the thing. It’s how people kept up with each other and life wasn’t so fast-paced,” explained Meece. “Now, those that should be participating, those who are 55 or 60 years old and older, their lives are just too busy. It’s just not a top priority for people now.”
“Still, there’s some who really don’t want to see the group dissolved. There’s always the possibility of it continuing if new leadership comes forward, ” added Meece. “Whatever happens, 40 years is a good run and it has served the community well.”
No matter what the future holds, the memories made over the past 40 years will always be treasured. “The group was good for friendships,” noted Wrench. “I always enjoyed seeing people, who maybe knew each other but hadn’t seen each other in a while, become reacquainted through the group and our meetings.”
“My fondest memories are of hearing the elders’ stories, ones about their childhoods and the way things used to be. I just love working with them and listening to them. They’re so full of wisdom that they can pass on,” shared Meece. “They’re also so appreciative.”
“I also loved getting to know people and their individual personalities. I loved seeing how much fun people could be once they got involved in the group, made friends, and got comfortable,” Wrench continued. “They loved to laugh and to learn new things. Many learned to quilt or knit; they were up for most anything.”
“I dread that [if the group ends] people won’t get to see each other like that anymore. Through this group, people who went to different churches were able to see other and spend time together. It was another chance to be friends,” said Wrench.
However, there is at least one more opportunity to come together, one more anniversary to celebrate.
“Our 40th anniversary celebration will be Tuesday, Feb. 5 starting at 11am at the Roseboro United Methodist Church,” said Meece. “Our guest speaker will be Rev. Andy Wood. We’re so glad to have him come because he’s local and very familiar with those in the group. He’s also very talented; he can preach, sing, and play the piano.”
“We’re also doing something a little diffrent this time. Usually, we bring out our scrapbooks at our anniversaries but they’re old and falling apart, so we’re going to have all the pictures from over the years playing on a slideshow,” added Meece. “People will be free to socialize while also being able to view the pictures.”
As the Roseboro Senior Citizens prepare for another anniversary, Wrench captured the bittersweet feelings of all involved: “It’s sad to see the group possibly ending, but for 40 years, it has been a wonderful ministry.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.