Ruthie Thomas, human resources director for McDuffie County,  designates Mary Rivera as the  McDuffie County’s 2019 Senior Citizen of the Year during a May 24 celebration at the Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center.

A woman who gives encouragement and affection to people from 3 to 93 and is a constant source of service to the community is McDuffie County’s 2019 Senior Citizen of the Year.

Mary Rivera, 72, was designated as the top senior in during the May 24 Older Americans Celebration at the Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center.  She was honored for giving of her time to help people in need and received a proclamation from McDuffie County.

Since 1990, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners has honored  a senior citizen living in McDuffie County, who is 70 or more years of age, who is or who has done worthwhile deeds, and making a positive difference in McDuffie County.  The Senior Citizen of the Year exemplifies dedication, loyalty, and service.

Rivera became tearful when she realized that Ruthie Thomas, the county’s human resource director, was designating her as the top senior during the reading of a proclamation.   She was emotional as applause erupted and as she thanked the senior citizens, the center staff and friends and family who attended the Older American Celebration.

“I thank Ms. Kim and the staff on this beautiful occasion as I stand here to accept and receive this wonderful award,” she said. “You are my family here at the center.  You are very special to me.  Thank you so much.”

Rivera was born in and educated in British Guiana. She is a currently a resident of Dearing, a member of the Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Thomson, a wife, a mother of two sons and one daughter, and grandmother to three.   Following decades of being an educator in several area schools, Rivera retired in 2012 from St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School in Augusta. During her career and since retirement, she had been an advocate for the elderly and an active volunteer in her church and community.

The Dearing resident uses her time, talent, and resourcefulness at the Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center.  She was most recently named the CSRA Volunteer of the Year, and she received the Clara West Volunteer Award for her strong advocacy for aging, for being a community leader, and an active volunteer.

According to the proclamation, Rivera is a continuous source of encouragement to the young and the elderly and is always giving of her time to those in need.

“She is known as a person to be looked up to and admired. Her strength is derived from her faith and love of the Lord, which is evident in everything she does for others. Her untiring love and energy is an inspiration to all,” notes the proclamation’s description.

The theme of the Older Americans Celebration was  “Connect, Create, and Contribute.”    The theme encourages older citizens to connect with their peers, friends, and community, to create new things with art and other mediums, and give back, not only to the senior center but also to the community, said Senior Director Kim Ivey-Mathis.

Older Americans Month is celebrated each May to recognize the significant role older adults play in the vitality of neighborhoods, networks, and lives.

Naomi Edmunds, 96,  of Thomson, again received the Oldest Member Award.

“I don’t feel as old as I am,” she said. “It is great to receive this award.”

During the ceremony, seniors who died in the year were remembered with a moment of silence and special volunteers were recognized and awarded with certificates.

The awards presented were:

•Behind the Scenes—Mamie Johnson

•Hop, Skip, and Jump On It—Perry Jones;

•Push Through Adversity—Vivian Adams;

•Leadership—Henry Williams

•Thank You—Brenda Hampton

•Most Cheerful—Linda Wellmaker

•Shelly’s Sidekick—Murdell Bingham

•Best Helper—Liz Brown

•Positive Participation—Vanessa Davis

•Making A Difference –Lula Holley

•Most Dependable—Jimmie Smith.

The seniors were also treated with a picnic lunch to end the celebration

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