Pastor looks to build center for Zebulon, Wendell seniors

amoody@newsobserver.comApril 5, 2014 

Mary Holder, left, crowns 78-year-old Lula Mae Montague the Trinity New Era Senior Citizen Foundation's first senior citizen of the year at an advocacy banquet at the Wendell Community Center in Wendell, N.C., on Saturday, April 5, 2014.


— A nonprofit group advocating primarily for black senior citizens in eastern Wake County is looking to grow, and its founder is taking a practical approach toward meeting that goal.

Pastor Mary Holder formed the Trinity New Era Senior Citizen Foundation in Wendell in 2007 with a goal of providing services and resources to enrich the lives of seniors in Zebulon and Wendell, for starters. But she admits the group didn’t take off like she had hoped.

“In seven years, I had seven banquets and each time I was trying to explain to (the attendees) why I was holding the banquets,” Holder said.

Holder, 64, said this year is different. She said the threat of a heart condition inspired her to “get up, stop talking and start walking,” and that event led her to move on from the philosophical and actively pursue something tangible.

“I now have an assignment,” she said. “It’s to take the time to learn and attain new knowledge, rules and policies on how seniors are served.

“Our goal is to attain one acre of land to build one building, and I want to build that building between Zebulon and Wendell. Those are the two areas we’re going to cover, but our target area is Zebulon because it seems to have the most need.”

Trinity New Era received its nonprofit status shortly after Holder’s health scare in November. Since then, she has secured an office space off Wendell Boulevard for a temporary headquarters for the foundation.

The current obstacle is finding the funds for a permanent space. Being active in local church community, Holder, a pastor of 16 years, knew which crowd she wanted to turn to first.

“With every church there is numbers,” she said. “To make it a reality, I’m going to need help from the churches, the seniors and the young people, to at least get resources and finances to get us off the ground. The land and building and creating one revenue-producing project are the first three steps, in that order.”

Holder called the pastors of eastern Wake black churches, seniors and family members to attend the group’s first African American Senior Citizen Banquet at the Wendell Community Center on Saturday afternoon. Holder was able to plug her cause in the presence of a mere five pastors from area churches, but got good feedback and considered it a good start.

“The remarks that they made were awesome, so that means they caught onto the vision right then,” Holder said. “Every pastor has a responsibility to the community, not just their church. And we have a responsibility to take care of the seniors and the widows.”

The banquet was the first Trinity New Era event Vajuana Phillips, pastor at Shiloh Temple in Zebulon, had ever attended. She understood Holder’s strategy in trying to pull local churches together behind one cause.

“Unity makes us stronger,” Phillips said. “We’re coming together to help one another. We can draw people together and come together to help the community and fellowship.

“You might know someone I don’t know, and when the small come together we can be something big.”

Holder, who was born and raised in Zebulon, sees an increased need for a local place for seniors to turn to. She wants to set up a resource network and offer guidance on anything from financial to legal and medical issues.

“A lot of the services that used to exist for seniors have gone away. To me, this foundation is right on time,” Holder said. “Everything we can’t do with our hands, we’re going to identify who can do it with their hands.”

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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