Women feted at senior center luncheon and awards program

IRVINGTON, NJ — Mayor Tony Vauss and the Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center’s second Women’s History Luncheon and Awards Program was held in the facility on Springfield Avenue on Friday, March 24.

The event was attended by Health Department Director Monique S. Griffith and at large Councilwoman October Hudley, who is also the media specialist at the Grove Street School Library. Griffith was present in her roles of organizer, facilitator and presenter, while Hudley was one of the four women of distinction being honored. The other three honorees were South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones, 1 Linden Avenue Tenants Association President Mary Terrell and East Ward District Leader and Democratic Committee President Sallie Oliver.

“I’m truly pleased and honored to be in the company of these wonderful ladies,” said Griffith on Friday, March 24. “We definitely want to take this opportunity to celebrate them, being that March is the month that Women’s History is being celebrated. The seniors have gathered today, just to celebrate Women’s History, to acknowledge those women who have come before us and certainly women that we have every day in our midst that contribute so much to the township.”

According to Griffith, the event was just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the list of senior-oriented events scheduled for this year.

“There are multiple activities that the seniors are participating in,” said Griffith. “April 1, we have a 5K Walk-Run. We have a Youth and Senior Companion Program that has been launched and the goal of that program is to really facilitate the interaction between the youth in the township as well as the seniors. So there are multiple activities that are associated with that.”

Gloria Chison, the Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center manager, echoed Griffith’s sentiments regarding the numerous activities and events on the seniors’ collective calendar.

“Friday, April 21, we’re going to have our fifth annual Casino Night, which will be held this year at the Chris Gatling, 285 Union Ave.” said Chison on Friday, March 24. “Also in April, we’re going to be going down to Dover, Del., for three days and two nights. So come over and join the center. There’s something here for everyone. Friday, March 31, we’re having our first King and Queen Social Night; we’re having our prom for our seniors so come on by. The music is going to be popping and we are, too.”

Griffith said the prom for seniors would double as an opportunity for the kind of intergenerational interaction she and Vauss are promoting in town.

“We have partnered with the Irvington public schools so the cosmetology program is sending some students over and they’re going to be the ones that are going to assist the seniors in getting prepared for the senior prom later on that evening, so they’ll do their hair, do their makeup and just get them ready,” said Griffith. “I know the seniors have gone out shopping already, in preparation for that event, and then we have some young men. We work with Young Men Striving for Greatness: It’s a mentoring organization here in the township. So, coupled with also the Irvington public school system, we have many students and young men that are coming over just to continue to interact with the seniors, so that they can not only pour into the seniors but the seniors can certainly pour into them from their experiences.”

Hudley agreed that sharing is an important part of building and maintaining a strong intergenerational community.

“As a token of thanks today, I presented all the women here with roses, to show my appreciation for their support, for their words of encouragement and also for being my dance partner,” said Hudley on Friday, March 24. “It takes a village to make it happen and I feel passionate, as a resident of the community for over 40 years, and also just to give back to my community is a pleasure and a passion of mine. I’m feeling really, really elated under the Honorable Mayor Tony Vauss and I really feel good that I am able to share my experiences to help make the community a better place to live.”

South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones is a veteran township leader and elected official who said she’s seen firsthand what Griffith, Hudley and Chison talked about and she’s glad that she did.

“Thank you so much to Gloria and Dr. Griffith for the fabulous day; I truly do appreciate it,” said Jones on Friday, March 24. “I truly do appreciate the seniors. Being a senior myself, I can truly say we had a good time.”

Terrell is well-known around town for the strong stand she took in defense of her 1 Linden Avenue tenants in 2013, when a cold front moved settled into town, threatening her and other residents who were without adequate heating at the time, because a new owner had purchased their building and installed a boiler that was not working properly at the time.

“I got an award for being a part of this facility, helping as many as I can; I give out the wheelchairs, the walkers and even the Depends; so if you need it, you just have to ask and we’ll get it to you,” said Terrell on Friday, March 24. “The owner and building management tried to evict me. I got a local lawyer, who I had worked for previously, to go to court with me and we won our case. It certainly is worth it. When you win, it makes you stronger. It makes you want to do more.”

Both Griffith and Hudley said they couldn’t agree more with Terrell.

“I will just echo what Hudley said in that we’re definitely operating in a way that’s consistent with the mayor’s vision,” said Griffith. “He certainly takes the quality of life that exists within Irvington very seriously. So we’re doing our part, to make sure that we continue to improve the quality of life for all of the residents that are here.”

Vauss said that’s what he likes and expects to hear from members of his administration and he heaped praise on all the Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center seniors and everyone involved with the second Women’s History Luncheon and Awards Program.

“What a wonderful event for pillars of our community,” said Vauss on Tuesday, April 4. “These young ladies have been leaders for a very long time in the township of Irvington. Long before I became mayor, they were helping the citizens of this township and much deserved honor.”

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