Hammond Glen senior living community in Sandy Springs inaugurated its new Century Club for residents over 100 years old by welcoming five new members, four of whom are Jewish.
Like Olympians, the group that included Mildred Wachter, Millie Kinbar, Estelle Wexler and Shirley Finck, were presented bronze medals and bouquets at the welcoming party.
Finck, made honorary chair of the group, called its first meeting to order with a rule that they wouldn’t talk about age.
“Age, for me is a no-no,” she said. “when people ask me about my age, I generally avoid the subject.”
But the other centenarians were happy to talk about what keeps them youthful and active.
Millie Kinbar immigrated to America with her family from Poland over 98 years ago when America was struggling with the after-effects of the Spanish Flu pandemic that had swept across America. She said she tries to take each day as it comes, and when they all add up to 100 years, she likes to think of it as a pleasant surprise.
“I just put one foot in front of the other and do what feels good,” she said. “And there are so many good things over the years that before you know it, here you are.”
For another of the honorees, Mildred Wachter, who moved from Erie, Pa., to be closer to her family, the secret to making it past the 100-year mark is just to keep going and stay happy.
“I like to exercise. That’s important,” she emphasized. “And I always try to have something on my mind that encourages me to keep going. I’m always trying to encourage myself to keep going. I try be positive and be happy with my life.”
Also on hand for the first meeting of the Century Club was the Mayor of Sandy Springs Rusty Paul, who has a few years to go before he qualifies for full membership. But he brought greetings from the city.
“It is an honor to celebrate five women who have lived such long, full and fulfilled lives,” he said. “They have not only witnessed so much of our history, they have individual stories that are inspired and inspiring. Each of them is a unique library of knowledge and wisdom.”
According to statistics from the National Institute on Aging, America has one of the world’s largest populations of people over 100 and that segment is growing fast.
By 2050, the population in that age group is projected to grow 20 times faster than the population at large, the NIA reported. That means that by mid-century there could be over 600,000 living to be 100, up from just 75,000 in 2010.
That keeps senior citizens communities busy with programs for honorees like the one at Hammond Glen.
The Jewish HomeLife communities in Alpharetta, Atlanta and Dunwoody also celebrate their 100-year-old residents with a special party. “There’s cake, music and even dancing. We are excited to now be able to have families join us again,” said Shari Bayer, JHL chief marketing and communications officer.
At Sunrise at Huntcliff Summit in Sandy Springs, which has a large population of Jewish seniors, residents who reach 100 get balloons and banners that decorate their doorway, and the path from their apartment to the elevator is sprinkled with confetti.
“By the time people make it to their 100th birthday, they have collected so many important memories,” said activities director Franki Groh Mohamed. “We think it’s so important that we add something special to all those memories.