The third interview in our new “Kindred Spirits” series shines a spotlight on the Golden Group from the Cathedral of the Annunciation, Atlanta, GA. We spoke with parishioner Ethel Winegar.
FLM: How long has your group been active?
Ethel: Golden Group was organized in 1980-81 when Father Homer Goumenis approached the Philoptochos Society with a need to minister the elderly in our parish. So I guess you can say that Philoptochos initiated the Golden Group. Maryanne Chanos took Chairmanship in 2008 as an independent chairperson. Before Maryanne, chairperson was Elaine Andrews.
Philoptochos is still active by sponsoring one luncheon a year. Our other luncheons are sponsored by generous organizations or individuals within our Parish.
FLM: How often does your group meet, and what are your current membership numbers?
Ethel: Our mailing list consists of over 200 names. Average participation is around 80 attending the luncheons. Since our membership begins at the age of 55, many on the mailing list are still in the work force.
FLM: Can you give us some highlights of your group’s yearly activities?
Ethel: We have one luncheon a month, we also host two picnics and try to have one other activity a month, usually a day trip. For the last three years, we have travelled to the Metropolitan’s annual Pascha picnic at the Diakonia Center, twice visited a Dahlonega winery in the fall, visited Gibbs Gardens, Human Rights Museum, and several more museums and sites. We travel to Paracletos Monastery each year. We have had overnight trips to Tarpon Springs Florida for Epiphany, and St. Augustine Florida.
We have interesting speakers (we try to find speakers in our parish first) who speak on topics as health and well being, War vets or members of the armed service at our Veteran’s Day luncheon, History of the early Greeks in Atlanta, personal safety, gardening with a local newspaper and radio personality, personal experiences and trips to monasteries in Greece. We also recognize birthdays and namedays.
This year we began a new program where we recognize a Golden Group member or married couple. We ask for information from family and friends, and narrate that info at our luncheons. We also have a crown for them which they have to wear during the luncheon.
There are many more activities, we try to come up with new ideas each year. Right now, transportation for our trips is our biggest obstacle, it is really expensive to lease a bus. But we keep trying. There are 13 hard working members on the GG committee who help put all this together.
FLM: Within the life the church, where do you feel our senior citizens can contribute the most?
Ethel: Our senior citizens have so much to offer in the way of sharing their experiences, wisdom, knowledge and guidance, especially in family life and of course their orthodox faith. Actual physical participation can be found in many areas of our parish, such as, cooking for bake sales, and of course working our festival. I’ve heard of several actually doing light housecleaning, gardening, maintenance and other improvement projects. So even though we seniors are coming to our Golden years, we still have much to offer, especially to our faith and our young people.