Category Archives for Announcements

A Chatham Black History Month Tribute by Saundra Gardner

  • February 16, 2021

Saundra Gardner

Let me take you on a journey that started in 2000, the year I became the first black social worker in Chatham County Schools. Get in your vehicle and turn with me onto Horton Rd. A road named after George Moses Horton, a slave that loved words. Words from sermons, songs and from the white students studying nearby as he worked on the plantation. George taught himself to read. On Sundays he would walk 8 miles to Chapel Hill. He met students there that were in love with the way he recited poetry. They were shocked that he wrote the poetry. He made 25 cents selling love poems. George went on to become a published poet. BUT he was still a slave. He published a book, The Hope of Liberty, BUT he was still a slave.  A newspaperman, a college professor and a governor raised money to buy George’s freedom, But he remained a slave. In 1863, at the age of 63, after publishing two books, The Emancipation Proclamation freed George Moses Horton. He holds the distinction of being the first African American to publish a book, and the only one to publish while living in slavery. 

George Moses Horton, I stood on your shoulders as I turned into Horton Middle School, formerly Horton High School. 

The School started as a framed building shaped like a rabbit box.  Material from the white school was sent to the rabbit box school and Pittsboro Colored School was built. Students attended that school until 1934. Then fire destroyed the building. One of the principals of that school, Bud Hunter, named the School after George Moses Horton. In 1934, Horton Consolidated School, a brick building was built. Mr. Benjamin J. Lee (yes the one whose name is on the Northwood High School auditorium) worked hard to develop a high school and in 1934 Dear Ole ’HORTON  High Was Born!!! Benjamin J. Lee was the first principal. He served as principal until his death in 1944. In 1935 the first class graduated. On December 11, 2019, Mrs. Joanna Leach, a member of the class of 1935 passed away at the age of 104.

HORTON HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES, you raised me and I remember you, as I pass The I.E. Taylor Gymnasium which was built in 1958. 

The I. E. Taylor Gymnasium was the place that all students, in grades 1-12, met on the first day of the school year and heard their name called and left with their new teacher. A lot of names have been called in that gym, a few of those are Mrs. Uva Holland, the first African American woman elected as a Chatham County Commissioner. She was a positive fixture in the Holland Chapel community and all over the County. Another name that was called was Margaret Bryant Pollard. She grew up on a farm in the Moncure area. She was proud to have graduated as a Valedictorian of her Horton High School Class. She too went on to be a County Commissioner. Margaret B. Pollard Middle School bears her name. She was the granddaughter of a slave. Margaret Bryant Pollard attributed her success to the lessons she learned from her parents and siblings. They taught her how to overcome life’s challenges with determination and a positive attitude. 

Margaret B.  Pollard, I took your determination with me as I turned the corner behind what was once called the Primary Building, also built in 1956. 

Inside, I remembered Mrs. Lillie Freeman Rodgers. Ms. Rodgers taught 38 years in the Chatham County School System and provided tutorial services in the home. She taught what we now call the Exceptional Children, the students that needed a little more than the regular classroom could provide. She was named Mother of the Year at NC A&T State University. She mothered all the students in her class and her Church. I look to my left and I remember the home Of Clara and Ernest Dark. Their home was located next to the school. Mr. Dark was a part of the coaching staff at Northwood High School that helped with the Integration transition in Pittsboro. Ernest Dark Jr, a former Chatham county school board member is their son. He served on the Board of Education for 9 years. He continues to strive to keep the memory of Dear Ole Horton High alive.

I journeyed inside the current 5th grade hall and I remembered all of my elementary school Divine 9 influences, Mrs. Clara Dark and Mrs. Josephine Lightsey were members of Zeta Phi Beta. Mrs. Annie M. Farrar and Mrs. Mariam Emerson were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Mr. I. E. Taylor and Mr. Ernest Dark were members of Phi Beta Sigma, and Mrs.Thelma Mckay, and Mrs. Addie Laws are members of Delta Sigma Theta. Mrs. Farrar and Mrs. Emerson helped me to decide to become a member of my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The Divine 9 may be a term you have heard recently during the Presidential Election. They are African American Service Sororities and Fraternities. Madame Vice President Kamala Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

All of the former teachers of Horton High School, YOU molded me. 

I continued to the main office and peered into the Horton Middle School media center, the first photo I saw is that of my principal from grades 1-8, Mr. I. E. Taylor. Born in 1911 in Chatham County, he lived with his grandfather, an ex-slave. His grandfather instilled in Mr. Taylor a love for learning. During that time, blacks could only receive a seventh grade education in Pittsboro. Mr. Taylor moved to Raleigh to live with family to attend school and work. He went on to graduate from Shaw University. He returned to Pittsboro to teach at Horton Consolidated School under the leadership of Principal Benjamin J.  Lee. He left Horton for several years to fill in a vacancy at J. S. Waters. Upon Lee’s death in 1944, Mr. Taylor was named principal at Horton. During his tenure at Horton High School, he saw the campus evolve from a one-building facility to a campus of three buildings. In 1970, Horton became a middle school. Mr. Taylor played an integral part in the transition during the integration of the black and white schools. 

Mr. Taylor's discipline was legendary and known and sometimes felt all over town. Mr. Taylor taught me how to shift to something new.

Continue with me down the Pittsboro- Goldston Rd as I traveled to my second assignment in Goldston.   In 1939 there was a school named Goldston Colored School. Later called Goldston High School. In compliance with the Civil Rights Act, the school integrated in 1970 and became JS Waters Elementary. I noticed a picture of a man on the wall and discovered he was Walter Alston McLaughlin, Sr., born October 21, 1910. Mr. McLaughlin taught mathematics at the Goldston Colored School and later became principal before being drafted to serve in the U. S. Army.  After completing his military duty, he returned to Goldston. During those years in the 40’s, 50’s and beyond, he bonded with the community and served the Goldston Community as principal for over 30 years. He loved his students, respected their families and believed there were greater opportunities for them. In the 60’s, Mr. McLaughlin served the Chatham County School System as Supervisor of Secondary Education. Mr. McLaughlin's shoulders gave me a sense of community in an area that was new to me.

I concluded my day by turning onto Pittsboro Elementary School Road for my third assignment. I started to think about two ladies that were our version of Ruby Bridges. A story about courage that we often fail to mention as we speak of black history in Pittsboro. In 1966 two years after the Civil Rights Act, Chatham’s The “Freedom of Choice” plan gave black students the opportunity to go to Pittsboro Primary and Pittsboro High School. 6th grader Eunice Goins went to Pittsboro Primary and 10th grader Shirley Scurlock went to Pittsboro High School. They and a few others decided to try “Freedom's Choice”. They both talk about the terrible things that happened to them that year. Stepping onto the bus and everyone moving to sit on the opposite side. Eating alone in the cafeteria, the racial slurs, the fights and bullying. There were a few black students but not many. Some of them dropped out and others returned to Horton. The lighter your skin tone the more accepted you were at the school. They had no friends. They had no allies. Eunice finished the school year but went back to Horton the next year. Shirley stuck with it and graduated from Pittsboro High School. Two years before the school was integrated in 1970. I talked to some people and they had similar experiences in Goldston. These brave students wonder why they and the trauma they experienced are never mentioned.

Eunice Goins, Shirley Scurlock and all of the Black Students who volunteered to be the first in Chatham County Schools before mandatory integration, this day, February 5, 2021 as we celebrate black history month, I say your names!!!!

Resources:  

  • Horton High School Alumni
  • Chatham County NC Historical Association
  • The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton: Don Tate
  • Horton High School 1935-1970 Yearbook
  • Knotts Funeral Home Website
  • Eunice Goins Allen
  • Shirley Scurlock Hart
  • Myron Jones
  • Mattie Jill Smith

Get Ready for Virtual VITA

  • January 26, 2021

The Chatham County Council on Aging Presents: VIRTUAL VITA!

NO APPOINTMENTS

  • Pick up information packet at the Eastern or Western Chatham Senior Center (The packets will be available on the front porch at both centers in a VITA box, 24/7 after January 26)
  • Complete the packet of information before dropping your tax documents off at the Eastern Chatham Senior Center in Pittsboro. 

What is VITA?

VITA is a service of the IRS, where IRS trained volunteers assist with income tax preparation at no cost to you. This service is sponsored by Chatham County Council on Aging.

Who qualifies?

Persons/families of low to middle income

Drop Off Only:

Please bring ALL tax information to the Pittsboro Senior Center on Tuesdays (1:00 pm- 6:00 pm), Thursdays (8:30 am- 2:00 pm) and Saturdays February 27th, March 27th (11:00 am - 3:00 pm)    

When:

February 9- April 6, 2021 

For more information: Call the Council on Aging: (919) 542–4512

Chatham County Mobile Free Pharmacy – February 26, 2021

  • January 22, 2021

MedAssist's Mobile Free Pharmacy is returning to Chatham County on February 26, 2021.

Host Site: Fellowship Baptist Church
120 Fellowship Baptist Church Road
Siler City, NC 27344

Time: 9 AM - 2 PM 

This event will function entirely as a drive-thru. All participants will remain in their vehicles or on foot as they move through the drive-thru line.

All participants are highly encouraged to order their over-the-counter medicine online at: https://form.123formbuilder.com/576871

Anyone who is unable to register in advance will receive a generic premade bag of medicine that contains items such as; cold medicine, vitamins, first aid, children’s, digestive aids, etc.

Anyone unable to register online will be able to pick up a premade bag of over-the-counter medicine. Due to COVID-19, exchanges or special requests are not allowed.

PUBLIC MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT

  • December 29, 2020

Our Council on Aging's Board of Directors holds their annual public meeting next Thursday, January 7, 2021, at 5:30 pm. It will be conducted virtually using Zoom. If you are interested in providing comments at the beginning of the meeting, contact Dennis Streets at dennis.streets@chathamcoa.org or call 919-542-4512. The Board will also be electing their officers for 2021. 


Share the Love with Seniors This Holiday Season

  • December 10, 2020

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Exciting news! For the 13th year running, the Meals on Wheels network is participating in the 2020 Subaru Share the Love Event. Over the past twelve years, Subaru and its retailers have helped Meals on Wheels to deliver more than 2.3 million meals nationwide to seniors in need.

Why does Subaru support Meals on Wheels? Too many seniors are struggling to stay independent and healthy. One in four seniors lives alone in isolation and one in seven seniors might not know from where their next meal is coming. This is simply unacceptable, which is why The Chatham County Council on Aging provides the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to the seniors of Chatham County, NC. This vital support keeps seniors in their own homes, where they want to be.

We’re incredibly grateful to Subaru and its Retailers for supporting our organization and the seniors we serve. With that in mind, we thought you might want to learn a little bit more about the Subaru Share the Love Event

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

This November 19, 2020, through January 4, 2021, for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased, Subaru will donate $250 to the customer’s choice of participating charities.* Meals on Wheels is one of four national participating charities and has been since the inception of the event. Through this event, as a member of Meals on Wheels America, the Chatham County Council on Aging will receive a share of the donation from Subaru vehicles sold at participating Subaru Retailers.

You might not be in the market to purchase a new car, but if you are, please look into the Subaru Share the Love Event to learn more. If you’re not shopping for a new vehicle, you can still help by spreading the word to your family and friends. A few quick and easy ways to do that:

And remember: this holiday season you can ensure our senior neighbors are not forgotten, when you purchase or lease a new Subaru and select Meals on Wheels as your charity of choice.

*Disclaimer: Subaru will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased from November 19, 2020, through January 4, 2021, to four national charities designated by the purchaser or lessee. Pre-approved Hometown Charities may be selected for donation depending on retailer participation. For every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased during the campaign period, participating retailers will donate a minimum of $50 in total to their registered Hometown Charities. Purchasers/lessees must make their charity designations by January 15, 2021. The four national charities will receive a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000 each. See your local Subaru retailer for details or visit subaru.com/share. All donations made by Subaru of America, Inc.

Council on Aging Continues Extensive Programming While Keeping Its Centers Closed to Inside Programming through March

  • December 4, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 4, 2020

Contact: Krista Westervelt, 919-579-7413, krista.westervelt@chathamcoa.org

Council on Aging Continues Extensive Programming While Keeping Its Centers Closed to Inside Programming through March  

Pittsboro, NC – The Board of Directors and management of the Chatham County Council on Aging have decided to keep the interior facilities of the Council’s Eastern and Western Senior Centers closed to the public through March 2021, when it will reassess the situation. At the same time, the Council remains committed to assisting Chatham County seniors and their families. 

“While we are encouraged by emerging news about the vaccines, we remain very concerned for the health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers as the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes a serious threat,” remarked Larry Ross, President of the Council’s Board. 

The resolution of the Council on Aging’s Board of Directors reads as follows:

Out of concern for the continued health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers, the Board of Directors of the Chatham County Council on Aging authorizes keeping the Council’s Eastern and Western Senior Centers closed to in-facility programming through March 2021. In March, the Board and Council management will reassess the status of COVID-19 and consider recommendations from the Chatham County Public Health Department and relevant others to inform conditions and timing for resumption of in-facility programing. In the meantime, the Board supports having the Council continue its ongoing work to meet the service needs of participants, offer virtual programming, and explore additional ways to safely assist those experiencing the effects of social isolation and loneliness. Along with the rest of the community, the Board looks forward to the introduction of safe COVID-19 vaccinations and supports having the Council’s two centers serve as parking lot drive-through sites for Chatham County Public Health to offer these vaccinations.

In making this decision, the Board considered several factors. These included the number of cases and positivity rate within Chatham County and North Carolina. 

According to North Carolina’s county alert system, Chatham is currently listed as having “Substantial Community Spread.” In recent weeks, North Carolina has seen record levels of hospitalization for COVID-19.

The Board considered the advice of local Public Health officials as well as the State. The Board noted Governor Cooper’s recent message, “With a vaccine so close on the horizon, we need to keep doing what we know works to slow the spread of this virus and help save lives these next few months.”

“As much as we wish we could reopen our two centers to in-facility programming, the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 is higher in indoor settings where air does not circulate freely and people are less likely to maintain social distancing,” noted Dennis Streets, director of the Council. “Because we know how much it means to folks to come to our centers for meals, exercise, education and recreational activities, counseling, volunteering, fellowship and so much more—this was a difficult but correct decision,” Streets added.     

In the meantime, the Council is continuing its extensive efforts to assist Chatham County seniors and their families. Ever since the Centers were closed to in-facility programming in early March, the Council has remained committed to its mission as a nonprofit organization, established 46 years ago. 

For example, from March 16th to November 13th, the Council provided 9,616 frozen meals and 14,565 shelf-stable meals to seniors sheltering in place. This will continue. Along with meals, the Council is providing incontinence supplies, assistive equipment, reading materials and much more to help older adults and family caregivers during this trying time.

The Council’s staff are also doing frequent friendly, check-in calls with participants and then responding in other ways to offer needed assistance. In addition, the Council is continuing its provision of in-home aide personal care, family caregiver respite, emergency assistance, minor home repair, and transportation. It is also offering a wide array of virtual programming for exercise and social engagement. For a calendar of these activities, go to https://chathamcouncilonaging.org/coa-virtual-activities/

Two additional priorities of the Council on Aging over the next few months will be partnering with Public Health to promote and provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine and continuing to combat the risk of isolation and loneliness over winter. 

“While the pandemic has certainly brought anxiety and hardship to many, it has also spurred us to think creatively about our delivery of services and programs. In addition, it has reinforced the importance of the support we receive from the community,” cited Streets. “As we move forward into a new year of service, we remain committed to doing the absolute best we can to assist Chatham County seniors and their families.”

For information about the Council on Aging, visit www.chathamcoa.org or call its Eastern Center at 919-542-4512 or Western Center at 919-742-3975. 

 -END-

Chatham County Public Health Department Partners with StarMed Healthcare to Host Weekly COVID-19 Testing Events

  • October 21, 2020

PITTSBORO, NC – The Chatham County Public Health Department is working with StarMed Healthcare and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) to host two weekly and recurring COVID-19 testing events in Chatham County as the public health department continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

StarMed will offer nasal swab PCR tests for no cost and optional rapid blood antibody tests for $50 at each. Testing events will be held the following days and location, beginning Thursday, October 22nd:

- Mondays (beginning October 26th): 12:30-4:30 p.m., Chatham Central High School, 14950 N.C. Highway 902, Bear Creek (PDF flyers: English, Español)

- Thursdays (next event October 22nd): 12:30-4:30 p.m., Northwood High School, 310 Northwood High School Road, Pittsboro (PDF flyers: English, Español)

The PCR test tells individuals whether they currently have COVID-19. These tests are available at no cost to individuals and are covered either by their insurance or NC DHHS through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Results are sent in three days on average via text message and/or e-mail.

The rapid blood antibody test tells individuals whether they have been infected with COVID-19 in the past. Results will be available within 15 minutes of being administered. Individuals are charged $50 for antibody tests at the time of testing.

Text the word “COVID” to (704) 850-6996 to pre-register and complete your virtual visit to reduce wait time for testing. Patients can also register onsite and be screened by a provider.

“We are grateful for this partnership with NC DHHS and StarMed to expand no-cost COVID-19 testing in Chatham County. Testing is an important component of our response efforts, and this initiative complements other testing options in our community,” said Mike Zelek, Chatham County Interim Public Health Director. “I have participated in one of these testing events myself, and encourage residents, particularly those who have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms, to take advantage of these resources and get tested.”

In addition to testing, the Chatham County Public Health Department urges all to continue to consistently practice the 3 Ws: Wear a face covering, wait six feet apart from others and wash your hands often.

“Just last week, our state hit record highs in the number of new daily cases. This is very concerning, but we have the tools to keep ourselves healthy while doing the activities we enjoy: Practice the 3 Ws, get tested and stay home if you are ill or have been exposed to the virus, and get your flu shot,” added Zelek.

A full list of Chatham County’s testing sites, along with information on the types of COVID-19 tests, the role of contact tracing and more resources, can be found online at chathamnc.org/coronavirustesting. Learn more about Chatham County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in English at chathamnc.org/coronavirus, in Spanish at chathamnc.org/coronavirusespanol and facebook.com/chathamhealth.

The COA Brings Birthday Cheer to Local Nonagenarians

  • October 12, 2020
The Chatham County Council on Aging took the show on the road to bring birthday celebrations to local seniors celebrating their 90th+ birthdays. These birthday parades offered a bright, cheerful surprise to seniors. Check out some highlights below!


(Special thanks to the Chatham Sheriff's Office for joining us for the festivities!)

SHIIP Pre-enrollment forms now available

  • October 7, 2020
The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counsels Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and long-term care insurance. The counselors offer free and unbiased information regarding Medicare health care products. Open enrollment is October 15-December 7 every year. Call Tydelia Hunt, Chatham County’s SHIIP Volunteer Coordinator, for general information and appointments at 919-742-3975.

Open enrollment is October 15-December 7

Due to COVID 19, procedures have changed for Open Enrollment for 2020. If you need help comparing and/or changing your Part D Drug Plan, please see the Pre- Enrollment form linked below. You may complete the form on your own and fax it or drop it off at one of the two Senior Centers. You may also call one of the two Senior Centers and ask for SHIIP and a staff member to help you complete the form over the phone. Complete directions are on the top of the form. Once the form has been completed and received at the Senior Centers, a SHIIP volunteer counselor will call you and schedule your phone session. If you prefer an in person counseling session, the COA will help you connect with trained SHIIP counselors at Piedmont Health in Siler City or Moncure.

Insurance Commissioner Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries to Compare Plans During Open Enrollment

  • October 5, 2020

RALEIGH — Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey reminds Medicare beneficiaries to compare and evaluate their current plans and make necessary changes during the annual Open Enrollment Period. Medicare plans and prices change. It is important for Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of the Open Enrollment Period by contacting local Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counselors to save money, improve your coverage or both.

The Open Enrollment Period begins on Oct. 15, 2020 and runs for eight weeks to give you enough time to review and make changes to your Medicare coverage. Changes must be made by Dec. 7, 2020 to guarantee your coverage will begin without interruption on Jan. 1, 2021.

It’s important to contact your local SHIIP counselor before making a decision about coverage because you may be able to receive more affordable and better Medicare health and/or drug plan options in your area. For example, even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, there may be another plan in your area that covers your health care and/or drugs at a better price.

SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and offers free, unbiased information about Medicare, Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and other health insurance issues. In addition to helping Medicare beneficiaries compare and enroll in plans during the Open Enrollment Period, SHIIP counselors can help people find out if they are eligible for Medicare cost savings programs.

Here are some of the ways to review and compare plans available for 2021:

• Get one-on-one help from your local SHIIP office by calling the Western or Eastern Chatham Senior Centers at 919-742-3975 or 919-542-4572.
• Get one-on-one help from SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, by calling 1-855-408-1212, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also request in-person assistance in your home county.
• Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
• Review the Medicare & You handbook. It was mailed to people with Medicare in September.
• Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

For more information about SHIIP and the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, call 1-855-408-1212 or visit www.ncshiip.com.

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