AARP Chapter 710, of Sea Isle, was declared the “Organization of the Year” during the Cape May County Division of Aging and Disabilities Services’ “Disco” Jamboree May 3. Shown during the event’s award ceremony are from left; AARP Chapter 710 Treasurer Joe Robinson, Chapter 710 President Frank Roach (dressed as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever), Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton, Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson, and Chapter 710 Vice-President Joann Gallagher. (Photo Courtesy Sea Isle City)

By Maddy Vitale

Sea Isle City’s AARP Chapter 710 won the “2018 Organization of the Year” from the Cape May County Division of Aging and Disability Services.

The award was presented at the 2018 Disco Jamboree at the Avalon Community Center May 3.

President of AARP Chapter 710 Frank Roach attributed the award to several things he thinks makes his chapter special.

“Our members are very giving people to Sea Isle City’s community and Cape May County in general, with all of our charitable efforts, all the luncheons we host and all the trips we organize,” Roach, 77, of Upper Township, explained Monday. “That’s what people are looking for – especially senior citizens.”

In addition to the county’s award to Chapter 710, was an honor to one of its members; Marion Ingram, who received the female 2018 Senior of the Year award for her dedication to AARP.

“Marion is a dedicated individual and continues to provide to the South Jersey Community with the latest information,” Roach said. “We are all proud to have her as part of the team.”

He said as legislative liaison, Ingram keeps AARP members updated on healthcare and various state and county programs.

AARP Chapter 710 member Marion Ingram, of Strathmere, was declared Cape Mau County’s Division of Aging’s Female of the Year. Ingram (second from left), was also honored by state officials on May 3 with Senator Jeff Van Drew, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, Assemblyman Bruce Land and Cape May County Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson. Photo Courtesy Katherine Custer.

With 187 members, Chapter 710 is the largest of five chapters in the county, with people from not only Sea Isle, but the surrounding communities.

Krista Fitzsimons program coordinator at Cape May County’s Division of Aging and Disability Services, who organized the Disco Jamboree, said Chapter 710 works well with Cape May County in a variety of ways.

“They are wonderful advocates for our seniors in Cape May County,” Fitzsimons said. “We really have joined forces and established good relationships with Chapter 710 and all of the other AARP chapters, and it is making a huge difference for us.”

Fitzsimons said she personally has seen what makes Chapter 710 so extraordinary.

“I want to live in Sea Isle when I retire,” Fitzsimons joked. “We go to their AARP luncheons. They are all so much fun and nice. They also do good things for the communities and a lot of social things too, that gets them out of the house.”

Members of AARP Chapter 710 of Sea Isle enjoy the 2018 Disco Jamboree at the Avalon Community Center.

In Roach’s letter to the county, he described some of the reasons he thought his chapter should be recognized as an outstanding Cape May County organization.

He listed various accolades the chapter had received, such as Sea Isle’s Community Partnership award, recognizing the local AARP as an outstanding nonprofit organization, that shows exemplary leadership and works with Sea Isle for the betterment of the community.

Roach also described an array of community service projects the organization participates in each year.

Every Christmas the local AARP chapter gives a sizable donation of gifts and gift cards to Mayor Lenny Desiderio’s Annual Holiday Toy and Food Drive.

The chapter also collects funds for local food banks and in 2017 alone, AARP members donated more than $2,900, divided amongst the Holy Redeemer Food Bank, the Food Bank at Sea Isle United Methodist Church, the Seaville Methodist Church Food Bank, Volunteers in Medicine of South Jersey, Family Promise and the Veterans Retirement Home in Vineland.

While the local AARP chapter is all about giving back to the community, it is also about offering members a lot of ways to get out and socialize and enjoy their golden years. Members can attend the regular AARP meetings six times a year which are held at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center Community Lodge.

In addition to AARP business, the meetings often feature special guests, entertainment and food.

There are also a host of luncheons given by the chapter numerous times a year. Some of the bigger ones are held at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Then there is the June luncheon to end the AARP season for the summer and the “Welcome Back Picnic” in September.

Throughout the year AARP Chapter 710 offers an abundance of ways for seniors to have fun from bingo, to dancing, to eating out, Roach said.

In fact, he isn’t just the head of the local AARP, he also takes the lead when it comes to getting people out and moving.

Roach decked out in his John Travolta “Saturday Night Fever” best for the Disco Jamboree.

He joked Monday, “Eat your heart out John Travolta.”