NEWARK, NJ — The Essex County Division of Senior Services hosted the 10th annual Essex County Older Americans Heritage Month Celebration on Wednesday, May 11, in The Priory restaurant in Newark. During the ceremony, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. presented Essex County Legends Awards to East Orange resident Inez Rosalie Alick Elliott and South Orange resident Nan Samons. May is recognized as National Older Americans Month.
“Older Americans Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the tremendous contributions our senior citizens have made to shape and mold today’s community, and bring attention to the contributions they continue to make on a daily basis to improve our quality of life. Active in all aspects of life, our senior population is proving that you don’t slow down after you reach a certain age,” DiVincenzo said in a press release. “Our honorees have exhibited a tremendous amount of responsibility by advocating for and providing assistance that is helping their fellow seniors to remain active and continue living in our community.”
The award winners were nominated by social service agencies and community organizations that work closely with the Essex Division of Senior Services and were chosen because they are positive role models for the younger generation, have worked tirelessly to assist fellow seniors and made tremendous contributions to improve the quality of life.
East Orange resident Inez Rosalie Alick Elliott is known as “Rose” by family and friends and as the de facto recording secretary of the Bethany Senior Citizen Center in Newark because of her impressive memory. At 99-years-old, Elliott overcame an accident in which she suffered nine broken ribs and had to learn how to walk again. At the senior center, she enjoys reading and playing dominoes. Her nomination from Bethany states: “Even though she is basically quiet, with a straight face, she has a strong presence that radiates admiration…. Mrs. Elliott’s secret to living healthy is her faith in God, staying calm and laughing as often as she can. Her contagious laughter makes you want to join her in the joke. With almost a hundred years of life, we salute Rose for setting an example of grace.”
“It is an honor to be here today and I hope that many of you will continue to do something worthwhile for your community,” Elliott said at the event.
South Orange resident Nan Samons was nominated by the JCC MetroWest Kosher Congregate Nutrition Program. She was one of the founders of the Playhouse Cooperative Nursery School 65 years ago, which is still going strong, and owned her own business, Needlepoint and Stitchery, in West Orange. Now 90-years-old, Samons remains involved in community affairs by making life better for fellow seniors. Two years ago, she started South Orange Seniors, which has established a townwide discount card for seniors, coordinated intergenerational programming with Seton Hall University, hosted an annual senior gala and established a snow-shoveling service to assist elder residents. In addition, Samons worked with SHU students to produce a documentary highlighting the lives of six South Orange seniors, organized computer literacy classes for her peers, worked out an arrangement with the South Orange Performing Arts Center to provide free tickets for seniors and worked with the South Orange Advisory Committee to hold senior citizen forums.
“I really am very proud and honored to be a recipient today,” Samons said at the event. “I would like to share this award with everyone in the room. Each of us know the benefits of volunteering — we learn new skills, feel a sense of purpose and contribute to the success of our community.”