The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was founded July 6, 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus. The Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 was formed on December 7, 1972. Ms. Ethel A. Belinky was the first chapter president. Ms. Belinky lived to be 100 years old. Her memorial service was attended by President Wilma Smith and Ernie Sims among others. The Ethel Belinky Award was established in 2009 in her honor for the outstanding work in the community. Ms. Patricia Crooks received the first award for 2008-2009 for her outstanding Community Service projects. The AARP MD State Office sponsors an Andrus Award Luncheon in honor of our founder Ethel Percy Andrus. Each year, this award is given to the chapter member who has made an exceptional contribution to the chapter and the community. Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 was honored in 2010 when Ms. Patricia Crooks was the recipient of the prestigious award.
The Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 meetings were held at the Spaulding Library for many years until Mr. Clifton Brown and several others brought the chapter to District Heights Municipal Center in 2002. We are indebted to the city of District Heights for their hospitality. In September 2002, Ms. Clara Robinson, Historian, and her committee presented the chapter with our very first newsletter, “The Lamplighter.” In 2006, President Vashtie Moncrief implemented the very successful “It’s Your Birthday” celebration which is our annual fundraising event.
Currently our membership is 235 and growing at each meeting. We have varied and interesting speakers to educate and entertain our members. We have many committees to spark the interest of our members. Committees are: Activity/Tours, Community Service, Legislative, Membership, Historian/Newsletter, Hospitality, Sunshine, Scholarship and Public Relations.
We have taken trips to such places as Myrtle Beach, SC, Las Vegas, NV, Holy Land USA in Orlando FL., New York, NY, and of course throughout the DC area. The Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 has held teas, Mardi Gras, plays, skits and other social events; however we are not all about fun.
Our outreach into the community has a broad scope with all types of events including health fairs, Community Day activities, participate yearly to the “911” AARP Day of Service and “Harvest for the Hungry“at participating Safeway Stores that donates food to local food bank. We donated money to the Forestville Pregnancy Center, gives boxes of clothes, food and other items to Shepherd’s Cove, a single mother shelter. We participated in Toys-for-Tots for children of soldiers stationed in Iraq. We participate yearly with the “Christmas-in-April” project; hosted ten residents from Bradford Oaks/Pineview Nursing homes at our Christmas Party. Several school have benefited from Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 from our donations of school supplies. We donated money to purchase keyboards and other instruments for the local children musical mentoring program. We have participated in Read Across America, our time and talents experience during Grand-parents/Career Day at North Forestville Elementary and Thomas Claggett Elementary Schools. We have knitted blankets which were given to Warm Nights Organization. Second Genesis Therapeutic Rehab Center, and United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) received clothes, shoes, pocketbooks and hats to those living in the shelter. We have written cards to soldiers in Iraq and partnered with other organizations and written Mother’s Day and Father’s Day card for those in local nursing home. Men were not left out; we give boxes of personal care items to the Addison Road Men’s Shelter in Capital Heights, MD. We donate yearly food baskets to area families during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Traveled to the Maryland State House in Annapolis, MD for Advocacy Day; to the Longworth Building to advocate about Medicare and filmed a spot for Medicare shown on TV. The Chapter awards scholarships to qualified high school graduate each year.
Throughout the years the Chapter have received numerous certificates, awards, plaques, and in 2013 two resolutions from the Maryland General Assembly and the Senate of Maryland in Annapolis, MD.
As you can tell AARP Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 has been at the forefront in helping the community. Join us the first Tuesday of each month excluding July and August at 12 noon in the District Heights Municipal Center, 2000 Marbury Dr., District Heights, MD. We look forward to seeing you there.
Allen Gilliam, Sr.
As the current President of this Chapter, I invite you to come out to any of our monthly meetings and share in the information and activities that we host throughout the year. I welcome your comments and suggestions for our continued growth!