by Lisa Tome
When Diane Brown helped with the founding of what has become the Lower Cecil County Seniors, Inc., Brown was under qualified.
Brown, 88, was in her 40s in 1976 - not age 55, which is now required to join the group. "We were the 76ers. It was the Bicentennial and you had to have something to represent your community," said Brown, explaining how the Lower Cecil County Seniors were founded.
Now 41 years later, the seniors still meet weekly, on Tuesdays, at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Earleville.
"We're independent. We're not governed or sponsored. We pay our own way, buy our own food and help those in need," said Brown.
And they eat. Lunch is part of every gathering. Last week, Chef Gary Porter, who runs the kitchen with help from a rotating group of seniors, was serving up Virginia ham, roasted potatoes, green beans with almonds, and cake. Porter feeds 65-70 seniors every week, selecting from his two months worth of rotating menus. Stuffed chicken and meatloaf are Porter's most requested meals. Bob Fitzner, 78, a kitchen helper said all the seniors clamor for Porter's rice pudding.
Nancy Ohrel, 67, is vice president of the Lower Cecil County Seniors, Inc. Ohrel lives in Elkton and is retired from working at the Earleville post office. She said that the overwhelming majority of the seniors in the group live south of the canal.
She said that the goal of the group is to provide seniors with a meal and fellowship. There are occasional guest speakers and other activities. Each senior chips is $5 per week for the meal. "When they hit 90, it's free," said Ohrel. "We had a 105-year-old member. We have some couples. Most are widows. We eat lunch at 11:30 and people are in no rush to leave."
Ohrel said that educating seniors about scams and sharing knowledge is a big part of the day. There is also an open mic portion where anyone can share news or information.