The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was founded July 6, 1958, by Ethel Percy Andrus. The AARP Suitland Maryland Chapter #939 (AARP Chapter 939) was formed on December 7, 1972. Ms. Ethel A. Belinky was the first chapter president. With over 200 financial members now, AARP Chapter 939 is the only chartered AARP Chapter in Prince George's County.
Given our founding in 1972, AARP Chapter 939 will officially celebrate 50 years of continuous service to Prince George's County seniors and the community. Our 50th Anniversary, "A Golden Celebration of our Past, Present and Future", will be held on April 14, 2022, at Martins Crosswinds, Greenbelt, Maryland, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. For more information, or tickets ($75), please contact us at AARP939@yahoo.com. The public is cordially invited to attend.
As a local AARP chapter, AARP Chapter 939 follows National AARP guidelines and AARP Maryland state guidelines for local AARP Chapters. Our meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month (except for July and August) beginning at noon. As of September 2022, our meetings are held at the Knights of Columbus facility, at 3611 Stewart Road, Forestville MD 20747. In fact, our first in person meeting since the beginning of the Pandemic in March 2020 was held at the Knights of Columbus facility on September 6, 2022.
Very briefly, our chapter advocates for state legislation that specifically addresses the needs of Maryland seniors. For example, Pre-Pandemic, our chapter members visited Annapolis several times each year to advocate for legislation needed by seniors. In addition, we conduct many activities not only for our members but also for other seniors in the community, particularly those isolated in facilities.
Throughout the Pandemic, we continued our Chapter meetings via Zoom and initiated classes to help our members to navigate this new way of communicating. We later established an IT Committee to address the IT needs of the Chapter. We also established a Health and Wellness Committee to help our members deal with the stresses of the Pandemic as well as ongoing mental health needs. In addition, we provided vital information to our members during the challenging times when there was a shortage of Covid vaccines. As you may recall, seniors, as well as other Prince George's County citizens, needed information about where these vaccines were available. We shared vital information with our members regarding vaccine availability and continue to respond to questions and concerns about the challenges for seniors during this Pandemic.
ADDITIONAL AARP CHAPTER 939 HIGHLIGHTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Our Founding President, Ms. Ethel Belinky, lived to be 100 years old. Former Presidents Wilma Smith and Ernie Sims attended her memorial service, among others. The Ethel Belinky Award was established in 2009 in her honor for her outstanding work in the community. AARP Chapter 939 member, 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. Over the years, other Chapter 939 members have received an Andrus Award including Charlesetta Griffin, Legislative Committee Chair, in 2021, and current President, Catherine Williamson, in 2022.
Prior to our first meeting at the Knights of Columbus in September 2022, the Suitland Maryland Chapter 939 meetings were first 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 to our Chapter for 20 years (2002 to 2022). Over those years, City of District Heights staff extended to our Chapter innumerable instances of assistance and support.
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 successful “It’s Your Birthday” celebration which is our annual fundraising event.
Currently our membership is over 200 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 Tours/Trips, Community Service, Legislative, Membership, Historian/Newsletter, Hospitality, Sunshine, Scholarship, Health and Wellness, Information Technology and Public Relations.
We have taken trips to places such 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:
-Participation in health fairs, Community Day activities, annual “911” AARP Day of Service, and “Harvest for the Hungry “, where participating Safeway stores donate food to local food banks.
-Our Chapter 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 participated yearly with the “Christmas-in-April” project; hosted ten residents from Bradford Oaks/Pineview Nursing homes at our Christmas Party.
-Several schools have benefited from Suitland Maryland Chapter 939's donations of school supplies. We donated money to purchase keyboards and other instruments for the local children's musical mentoring program. We have participated in Read Across America, and have devoted our time, talents, and experience during Grandparents/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.
-We 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.
-Throughout the years the Chapter has received numerous certificates, awards, plaques, and it received in 2013 two resolutions from the Maryland General Assembly and the Senate of Maryland in Annapolis, MD. In June 2022, received a proclamation from Prince George’s County Counsel Johnathan Medlock for “Protect Week.”
-Each year, AARP Chapter 939 awards scholarships to qualified Prince George's County Seniors.
AARP Suitland Maryland Chapter #939 has been at the forefront in helping Prince George's County seniors and other residents. Join us the first Tuesday of each month excluding July and August at 12 noon at the Knights of Columbus facility at 3611 Stewart Rd, Forestville, MD. We look forward to seeing you there.
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!