A program called 4Ever Young, designed to promote camaraderie and fellowship among all members of Brigantine's senior community, will host an informal social gathering from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the St. Philips Hall annex of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 8th Street South and Brigantine Avenue.

The senior social — dubbed Celebrate America! — is free to attend and open to all residents age 60 and over. It will include a hot catered lunch, live patriotic music and a healthcare representative providing information and literature on 2020 revisions to Medicare.

Registration for the event is requested by calling 609-948-5098.

“It's a program under St. Thomas, but it's completely non-denominational and open to everybody in the community age 60 and older,” said program coordinator Eileen Robbins, the home-bound ministry and True Spirit Coalition liaison for St. Thomas Church. “We try to do it quarterly, and it's more to promote social interaction among our seniors than anything else. Since next week is Presidents holiday week, we thought it would be nice to have a patriotic theme for this one.”

Pianist Mary Jane Kelso, St. Thomas' director of music and liturgy since 1990, will be accompanied by guitarist Andrea Pelosi-DeCoons and members of the St. Thomas Choir in leading guests in song.

“We'll start out by singing the 'Star Spangled Banner', then Andrea will take over and we'll do a patriotic sing-a-long with everyone,” said Kelso, a retired music teacher who spent more than 16 years in the Brigantine School District, previously teaching in Vineland. “Then the choir members and I will do a salute to the Armed Forces.

“It will be sort of a medley of the five Armed Forces' theme songs,” she added, “and before we start, if you have a family member who served, or if you served yourself, you'll be asked to either stand or wave so that we know who you are and can be recognized. Then at the end we'll all sing 'God Bless America'.

“Since it's the Presidents holiday, we felt that honoring all who served was appropriate, and our pastor, Father Ed Maher, thought that was an important thing to do too.”

Robbins said that many seniors come by themselves, and others bring senior members who are new to the Brigantine community to meet and mingle, which is encouraged.

“We're trying to get people out who may not leave the house that often, and to bring people together who don't know each other,” Robbins said. “We've been doing this for about a year-and-a-half now and it's been very successful.

“People love it and the room is usually packed,” she said, “but we encourage you to call 609-948-5098 and let us know how many will be in your party, so that we know roughly how many to expect.”

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