09 May ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO AND THE DIVISION OF SENIOR SERVICES CELEBRATE ESSEX COUNTY’S ANNUAL OLDER AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH Legend Awards are Presented to Six Essex County Senior Citizens
Cedar Grove, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Essex County Division of Senior Services hosted the Annual Essex County Older Americans Heritage Month Celebration Wednesday, May 9th in the Essex County Robert O’Toole Building in Essex County Cedar Grove Park in Cedar Grove. May is recognized as National Older Americans Month.
During the ceremony, DiVincenzo presented Essex County Legends Awards to the following Essex County senior citizens:
- East Orange resident Dollie June Crawford-Glass is 102 years old, is a member of the Sand Hill Cherokee-Linape Indian Tribes, and can trace her family roots to the Civil War, where her uncles were scouts.
- Montclair resident Hazel Hassen Bey, 93, has competed in every Women’s National Bowling Tournament for over three decades and every National Senior Games since 1987, despite having chronic rheumatoid arthritis and being involved in a car accident.
- Newark resident Lillian Hipps is a retired nurse and teacher; current Pastor, Teacher and Prophetess; and former President of the Branch Brook Manor Tenants’ Association.
- Newark resident Gwendolyn McGill has been a phenomenal volunteer for the Bethany Senior Center for eight years.
- Cedar Grove resident William Clyde Schneider is a retired police chief in Cedar Grove.
- East Orange resident Vashti Trent White is 101 years old, was the first African American to serve as Manager of the Business Education Section at the National Board of the YMCA-Eastern Region, and continues to garden.
“Older Americans Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the tremendous contributions our senior citizens have made to shape and mold today’s community, and bring attention to the contributions they continue to make on a daily basis to improve our quality of life. Active in all aspects of life, our senior population is proving that you don’t slow down after you reach a certain age,” DiVincenzo said. “Our honorees have exhibited a tremendous amount of responsibility by advocating for and providing assistance that is helping their fellow seniors to remain active and continue living in our community,” he added.
“Our Legends Award recipients demonstrate that you can still contribute and make a difference in your community no matter what your age. All of our seniors are role models for the contributions they have made and continue to make, inspiring our younger generation to get involved and for the assistance they have provided to their fellow seniors,” Essex County Division of Senior Services Director Jaklyn DeVore said.
The award winners were nominated by social service agencies and community organizations that work closely with the Essex Division of Senior Services and were chosen because they are positive role models for the younger generation, have worked tirelessly to assist fellow seniors and made tremendous contributions to improve the quality of life. The honorees are as follows:
Dollie June Crawford-Glass is 102 years old and is the mother of seven children, nine grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, 19 great-great-grandchildren and 14 great-great-great-grandchildren. She is a member of the Sand Hill Cherokee-Linape Indian Tribes and can trace her family roots to the Civil War, where her uncles were scouts. Dollie still holds fond memories of dressing to the nines with her husband Godwin and dancing the night away at many famous New York Clubs.
Hazel Hassen Bey has experienced many obstacles, including battling chronic rheumatoid arthritis and being involved in a car accident. Still, the 93-year-old has managed to overcome these challenges and continues to play in local bowling leagues twice per week. In addition, Hazel has competed in every Women’s National Bowling Tournament for over three decades and every National Senior Games since 1987. She was a licensed practical nurse working with elderly patients for 30 years and for 16 years at the Daughters of Israel.
Lillian Hipps was trained as a Master Chef before furthering her education and earning a degree as a nurse. She worked as a nurse at the Woodbridge State School for the Mentally Challenged, where she took on additional responsibilities as a troubleshooter, grants writer and union representative, and then worked as a surgical nurse at Alexican Brothers Hospital in Elizabeth before retiring. She became ordained as a Pastor/Teacher/Prophetess after continuing her studies at Revival Center Church in Carteret, and has been helping people throughout the United States, Guyana and Puerto Rico. Ms. Hipps moved into Branch Brook Park Manor in Newark, where she started a Bible study class and became President of the Tenants’ Association, helping to improve the residents’ quality of life. “It’s an honor and a privilege being here and I appreciate receiving this award,” Ms. Hipps said.
Gwendolyn McGill has been volunteering at Bethany Senior Center for eight years. She has trained other volunteers from the Salvation Army and St. Vincent’s High School to properly assist senior citizens and gives them the respect they deserve. She is especially fond of one participant who has been neglected by her family. Gwen assists this senior with laundry, grocery shopping and personal care, and has even helped bridge the distance between the woman and her daughter. Ms. McGill has been a great addition to the program and to the people she helps on a daily basis. “Thank you to all the senior citizens I work with. This is just not about me, it’s about our team at the Center. I appreciate you looking at me in this perspective,” Ms. McGill said.
William Clyde Schneider can trace his family’s roots back to his great-grandfather George Munch who became one of the first families to settle in Cedar Grove when he bought his homestead in 1851. Mr. Schneider’s family has a legacy of serving the public as police officers and firefighters: his father and one brother both served as police chief in Cedar Grove, another brother was a special police officer and all volunteered with the Cedar Grove Fire Department. Mr. Schneider joined the National Guard after graduating high school and later began his career in law enforcement in the North Caldwell Police Department, transferring to Cedar Grove Police Department in 1958. He was promoted to Chief of the Cedar Grove Police Department in 1988 and held this position until his retirement in 1998, after a 40-year career. His current initiative is to walk on all the streets in his hometown. “Thank you for this special honor,” Mr. Schneider said.
Vashti Trent White is 101 years old and was the first African American to hold the position of Manager of the Business Education Section with the National Board of YMCA (Eastern Region). Pursuing higher education was important, and Ms. Trent White earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Montclair State College. She later became a teacher in the East Orange public school system and an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State. She has been avid gardener since she was a child, and she regularly shares her bountiful harvests with her family, friends and neighbors. “I have an outdoor garden from which I eat all year round. There is nothing like planting something and seeing it grow,” Ms. Trent White said. “This is also true in all aspects of your life. You can plant a part of yourself in someone else and watch them grow as well,” she added.
The Essex County Older Americans Heritage Month Celebration is part of a yearlong series of programs initiated by County Executive DiVincenzo to recognize and celebrate the diversity of Essex County. Other cultural celebrations celebrate African American Heritage, Irish Heritage, Italian Heritage, Jewish Heritage, Latino Heritage, Portuguese Heritage and Women’s History.
The Essex County Division of Senior Services offers a wide range of services to eligible Essex County senior citizens. The Division offers adult protective services, provides basic transportation services, administers adult day care centers, offers counseling services, provides home delivered meals and offers visiting nurse services. For more information, please call the Division of Senior Services at 973-395-8375.