A trailblazing pastor and community voice. A tireless volunteer. An educator who’s become the face in the local fight against illicit drug use. A pioneer in early childhood education. A dedicated elected servant. A leader in Chatham’s Black community.
They make up the inaugural “6 Over 60” class — six people aged 60 or older recognized for their years of meritorious contributions to Chatham County — and they’ll be honored at a “6 Over 60” awards luncheon on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro.
The recipients: the Rev. Dr. Carl Thompson Sr., Marylou Mackintosh, George Greger-Holt, Genevieve Megginson, Diana Hales and Mary Nettles. They were chosen from among all the nominees by a selection committee in a new recognition program created as a partnership of the Chatham County Council on Aging and the Chatham News + Record.
The awards luncheon will be the culmination of “We Love Seniors” month in Chatham County, a month-long celebration of older adults that is unique to Chatham.
“The selection committee for the inaugural ‘6 over 60’ awards here in Chatham County had a difficult decision to make,” Council on Aging Director Ashlyn Martin said. “We received 24 nominations representing 24 very deserving candidates. It was an honor to be able to read about the many accomplishments of these individuals and the contributions they have made to Chatham County. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate ‘Chatham Loves Seniors Month’ than to recognize these individuals for the difference they have made.’”
About the winners
The Rev. Carl Thompson Sr.: The nominee with the most first-place votes among the selection committee, Thompson, in 1978, became the first African American to be elected as Chatham County commissioner. As senior pastor of the Word of Life Christian Outreach Center in Siler City, Thompson has been a steadfast and trusted community voice, as well as a leading advocate for justice, reconciliation and equity.
Marylou Mackintosh: A truly tireless volunteer who creates (quilts, facemasks during the COVID pandemic, skits and plays), starts support groups, sews, teaches, and serves in a multitude of ways across Chatham County. Known for helping out wherever there’s a need, Mackintosh also serves on numerous committees geared toward helping Chatham’s aging population.
George Greger-Holt: He’s the community outreach coordinator for Chatham Drug Free, a position he’s held since 2013 after decades working with students in Chatham County Schools. He’s established programs to educate youngsters about the dangers of drug use, and has received numerous local and statewide community awards and served on a multitude of local advisory boards.
Genevieve Megginson: For the past 29 years, she’s served as the executive director of the Chatham County Partnership for Children, expanding and enriching opportunities for high-quality early childhood education in our county. A recognized leader in the field of early childhood education, Megginson has also served in a leadership capacity for N.C. Smart Start as a mentor for the National Technical Assistance Center, helping other states develop and launch early childhood initiatives.
Diana Hales: Hales just ended an eight-year stretch as a Chatham County Commissioner, where she oversaw historic changes and was instrumental in paving the way for growth in economic development. At her last meeting as a commissioner, her fellow board member Karen Howard said of Hales: “All the things we value about Chatham but many of us take for granted, Diana has had the foresight and fortitude to stand up and defend those things.”
Mary Nettles: Nettles is the president of the Chatham County Community NAACP in Pittsboro and leads the Community Remembrance Coalition-Chatham. As Chatham has grown, she’s helped discourse grow with it, leading a life of civil and political activism. She was also the first Black woman to serve as chairperson for the Chatham County Democratic Party.
“Launching a new venture can be a nerve-wracking experience, but through our partnership with the Chatham News + Record and our strong pool of nominees derived from the community, the first selection process for the ‘6 over 60’ awards proved to be an exhilarating experience,” COA Grants and Communications Specialist Jimmy Lewis said. “It is important to keep in mind that those who were not selected this time will remain in consideration for the 2024 class and going forward. We look forward to the ‘6 over 60’ awards becoming a highly anticipated event annually on the Chatham County calendar.”
News + Record Publisher and Editor Bill Horner III said the number of deserving winners was a testament to meaningful and critical work being done by the “over 60” population to enrich Chatham County.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with many of those in this inaugural class, and many of us have seen first-hand their tireless commitment to making Chatham County a better place to live,” he said. “It’s also a privilege for us at the News + Record to help recognize their work. We could easily have had a ’20 Over 60’ class; we look forward to growing this list of recipients in the years to come.”
The first “6 Over 60” awards lunch won’t be open to the public, according to Lewis, but in the future the Council on Aging hopes to expand the celebration.
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