NORDONIA HILLS – Although a local group of seniors has been around for 25 years, it needs a boost to increase its numbers.
The local American Association of Retired Persons Chapter #4931 celebrated its 25th anniversary at the March 13 meeting with a new president and new meeting place.
President Kerry Buddie took on the leadership role to rebuild membership numbers, which have been falling since 2013. The meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. at Avenue Care and Rehabilitation Center, 9730 Valley View Road in Macedonia.
Many of the members joined when they were between 60 and 65 but as they aged, younger members didn't join and the group’s roster is down to 50 from a high of 250 members. Those age 90 and older don't have to pay dues.
"Younger people weren't joining clubs and organizations," Buddie said. "I'm probably the youngest at 63."
Buddie said her parents were very involved with the AARP group.
"I have a tie to it," Buddie said. "When I retired, it was one of the first clubs I joined."
The club moved Nov. 14 to the new location at Avenue Care & Rehabilitation Center which offered free space, which allows the club to pay more for speakers and entertainment provided nearly every month. The club had previously met for around 23 years at the United Methodist Church of Macedonia.
Membership for the local organization is $12 per year. While the national organization offers discounts on insurance, travel and restaurants, the local group focuses on education, socializing and giving to others.
"I want to educate the elderly about services available for them," Buddie said.
One topic is places where the elderly can purchase low cost meals or free meals or have meals delivered, she said.
The March 13 speaker was The Village Teller Joe Conrad, who shared tales of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Conrad participates in Tales Around the Necklace storytelling hosted by the Cleveland Metroparks in different locations on the second Saturday of the month.
April’s speaker will be Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro who will talk on current county projects in Northern Summit County and programs available to seniors.
First Vice President Marianne Borrelli said the staff at Avenue Care has been very accommodating.
"I come for the comradery and the friendship of people of my generation," Borrelli said. "I enjoy the learning experience of speakers, entertainment and new ideas."
Any member of the national AARP is welcome to come and spend an hour once a month making new friendships, Borrelli said.
"I like being part of a group that understands me, my needs, my likes and dislikes and my problems," Borrelli said.
Treasurer Cathy Flerchinger said she began coming for the trips and socialization.
"There's a big variety of speakers on healthcare, history and entertainment," she said.
Loreen Link is the party planner and the group has a picnic and Christmas party.
"As a group we can do more here at Avenue Care since we aren't in a church," Link said.
They have a 50/50 raffle at the meetings to raise money and may have BINGO in the future.
"June 12 we have our annual picnic at Sagamore Hills Township Park," Buddie said. "This is open to the public with a ticket purchased prior."
An annual Christmas Party is held for the group’s December meeting. All meetings are held the second Wednesday of the month (except July and August) at 1 pm.
"Meetings are open to the public and we welcome new members at any time," Buddie said.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Chapter 4931
AARP's mission is to "empower people to choose how they live as they age" and helps members to remain physically and mentally active by serving others.
The first meeting of the Nordonia Hills Chapter 4931 of AARP Inc. was in October 1992 with 26 in attendance, said Chapter Kerry Buddie. The number grew to 150 by March of 1993. On March 10, 1994 the group was incorporated and recognized as an official AARP Chapter.
They first met at the Multi-Service Center in Macedonia for several months and then moved to the Northfield Board of Education Building. When that was renovated to become the Northfield Elementary, the chapter moved to the United Methodist Church in Macedonia, where meetings continued from 1995 until the end of 2018. In January 2019 AARP Chapter #4931 had its first meeting at its new home, Avenue Care and Rehabilitation Center in Macedonia.
During the late 1990’s membership grew to 250 with a waiting list of up to 80 people. Some people waited 2 to 2-1/2 years to get into the club. The members used to volunteer as baggers for Kohl’s during the holidays and sales.
"This was their biggest fund raiser for many years," Buddie said. "Thousands of dollars were donated to various local charities, the Longwood Y, Concerts in the Parks, The Emergency Assistance Center, Summit County Multi Service Center, etc."
In 2000 AARP Chapter #4931 started giving a $1,000 scholarship to a Nordonia graduating senior and continued this practice until 2018.
Because of dwindling numbers, the scholarship has been discontinued but the local group will focus on helping senior citizens with a community service project.
For more information on how to join the club, contact Buddie at 330-748-4795.