By Diane Glidewell [email protected] The Rotary Club of Forsyth Monroe County maintained an annual tradition on November 17 (one week before Thanksgiving) which is an early start to the holiday season. Hosted seniors for a Thanksgiving luncheon at the Monroe County Conference Center that included lots of fellowship and a side of entertainment within a Rotary gathering that emphasized community needs and efforts to answer them. As Older American Council guests packed the room and enjoyed plates of ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, dressing and biscuits with tea or lemonade and chocolate icing cake for dessert, the Wesleyannes of Wesleyan College in Macon offered a mix of seasonal dishes. music. Led and accompanied by Wesleyan music teacher Nadine Cheek, six young women opened with a Latin song about how music makes trees move and calms wild beasts. They followed with a prayer/lullaby from the opera “Hansel & Gretal” by the German composer Engelbert Humperdinck. Then came some traditional Christmas carols with “We wish you a Merry Christmas” as the finishing touch. In addition to the Rotarians, six Mary Persons students, two freshmen and four seniors, helped serve lunch guests. Rotarian Dr. Mike Hickman said that Rotary is a service organization that gives back both locally and around the world to fulfill its motto of service above self. He featured Forsyth Monroe County Rotary President Beverly Savage as a speaker. As a prelude to Rotary’s donation to Central Georgia Technical College’s adult education program in Monroe County, Savage shared a very personal story. She said that for years she had lied every time she was asked a certain question and she had lied on job applications and where the question appeared. She lied to keep the secret that she did not graduate from high school. Her lies got her good jobs, and she did well in them. She worked for a bank in Macon, and later she and her ex-husband founded their own auto repair business, Mid Georgia Service Center. She was the 2001 Small Business of the Year. She volunteered at Hubbard Elementary School, reading to 1st and 2nd graders, she volunteered at the Chamber of Commerce, and was respected in the community as a person of successful business. “But a cloud hung over me,” Beverly said. “My three kids didn’t even know I didn’t graduate.” She said that when she went to Peggy Walton’s adult education center, Walton thought she would come as a volunteer. She told him that she had been keeping a secret and that she wanted to get her GED. “She took me by the hand and walked me down the steps,” Beverly said. “I brushed up on a few subjects and in June 2003 I got my GED.” She said the reporter caught wind of her story and ran a front-page story. She was nominated by the Technical College for the State Eagle Award. She has since taken a few classes at Wesleyan College. She is now a successful real estate broker and teaches real estate pre-licensing classes, and she noted that she was even asked to be president of the Rotary Club. But she continues to desire to have more education and has the goal of getting her college degree. She told the seniors that she can wait until she is 62 and she can take tuition-free college classes in Georgia. Beverly presented a Rotary check to Central Georgia Technical College for $1,600, which will pay for 10 people’s GED tests, to CGTC Monroe County Adult Education Site Manager Marilyn Norfleet. “What a beautiful story,” Norfleet said. “We’re glad we were able to help you, even though she had it on you the whole time.” She introduced Levi Dane Wheeler, who had received her GED the day before. She said the GED program is a wonderful opportunity and she appreciates the help the Rotary gift will provide. She said that she lives in Newnan but her mother works in Monroe County and found that she was the best route to her GED. She signed up for a 30-day program, but was able to complete it in seven days. “I dropped out at 16 and there was a hole in my heart,” Wheeler said. She plans to continue her studies at CGTC to earn a degree in criminal justice. She would like a career in law enforcement as a detective or investigator. Norfleet said Monroe County is currently in need of an adult education instructor and she encouraged anyone interested to apply. Beverly also presented a check for $350 from Rotary to the Monroe County Literacy Program, which was accepted by Alicia Elder. She said the program supports literacy in Monroe County schools with special projects to encourage reading with the goal of having all students read at the 3rd grade level. Elder said guest readers at schools are welcome. Hickman closed the program by thanking the seniors for what they have done for the community during their lives. She thanked Rotarian Jim Wilcox for planning the event each year. “Thanksgiving is a time to reflect,” Hickman said. “Make it a habit to tell people ‘thank you.'” Her comment was received with an “Amen” from the senior citizens.