An overflow crowd enjoyed the 20th annual Manassas Campus Senior Citizens Holiday Celebration on December 1. The event began with student Mariya “Masha” Podeyko introducing NBC-4 meteorologist Chuck Bell who served as master of ceremonies. Bell quickly set the tone for a fun afternoon by predicting a “sunny good time” for everyone Committee chairwoman Patricia Knight Gary welcomed the seniors and thanked them for getting the holiday season off to a merry start. Gary has been the driving force behind the event for two decades. Interim Provost Christine Holt shared seasonal wishes from the College and said how excited she was to participate in her first Manassas senior luncheon.
The appreciative audience was treated to a joyous rendition of “Winter Wonderland” by NOVA’s own Kathy Russell, a talented soloist who has performed around the nation and in Europe, accompanied by Thomas Scurlock on the piano. More musical entertainment followed with “Men in Song” under the direction of Janet Lunsford. The all-male choir sang several holiday tunes and encouraged everyone to join in.
Kellie Blair Hardt, one of the students who organized the inaugural luncheon 20 years ago, shared memories of the first celebration. Hardt is a science teacher for Manassas City Public Schools and is currently pursuing a doctorate at George Mason University.
After the seniors enjoyed a turkey lunch with all the trimmings, Bell and Santa, assisted by a host of elves (otherwise known as students, faculty and staff), distributed numerous gifts to all the “boys and girls.” In addition to taking home poinsettias and other great door prizes, every guest received a specially designed NOVA blanket.
“The luncheon gives our faculty, staff and students the opportunity to spread holiday cheer to some deserving people in the community,” Gary said. “A heartfelt thanks to our faculty and staff at the Manassas Campus. It is a joy to work with such caring and giving people who continue to give their time and donations each year. We are so happy we can help bring joy to these cherished members of our NOVA family.”
After the event, Bell praised the organizing committee. “It’s obvious the holiday luncheon is a labor of love for all involved. Your collective efforts made the day enjoyable and my job even easier. Sometimes emceeing can be more like refereeing if the group hosting the event doesn’t have all the pieces in place and yesterday’s luncheon was run very smoothly,” he said.
On his Saturday morning broadcast, Bell talked about how much he enjoyed the event and showed photos, including one of Bell with Santa.
Leif Corbett, Amanda Corrigan, Nancy Green, Carol Lemmon, Carlene Mackereth and Marrium Saleem served on the event committee. Thanks also to the Manassas Campus Business Office, Parking, IT and Facilities departments for their support.
Special thanks to Bell and Santa (aka Steve Leonard) for taking the time to make the luncheon special, and to Caton Merchant House of the Prince William Health System for providing shuttle service between the parking lot and the building.
The committee also appreciates the contributions made by Acumen Solutions (Luke McKenney), Acumen Solutions (Zalanda Marshall), Chick-fil-A Manassas, Hard Times Café Manassas, Home Instead Senior Care, Joe’s Subs and Pizza (Bassam Eways), Joe’s Subs and Pizza (Ferris Eways), Knight Investment LLC, Lifelong Learning Institute Manassas, Mancessory (Torian Robinson), News & Messenger, NOVA Workforce Development Office, Prospero’s Books, Sir William Seasoning (John-Patrick Gary) and Uno’s Chicago Grill Manassas.