Couple of retirees sitting around talking: That's goal of new forum ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

September 30, 1992|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Charlie Williams, 67, has a mission: to get his fellow Glen Burnie seniors to voice their concerns publicly and ask each other, "What's happening now?"

Thus, Mr. Williams single-handedly created "What's Happening Now? Let's Talk About It," an informal "coffee-in-the-hand" discussion forum for seniors only at the Pascal Senior Center.

"I noticed seniors talking," he said, "so I decided to start this group. This will give them something to do other than retire, go home, sit in rocking chairs and watch television all day."

Mr. Williams, a high school history teacher at Arundel High in Gambrills for 32 years before retiring, said he wanted to make his fellow seniors more aware of what was going on.

"Seniors have got so many concerns," he said, "but they don't like to ask questions. Maybe this will get them to open up. And I'll try to answer the questions as best as I can."

Ann Wagner, director of the Pascal Senior Center, said she was unable to describe Mr. Williams' determination in one word. "He's bright, energetic and really willing to share himself with others," she said.

Mr. Williams and Ms. Wagner attempted a similar forum two years ago. Ms. Wagner said the forum met with little success because the group's moniker, "World Issues," implied a class-like situation rather than a discussion among peers.

"Seniors are just as reluctant to go to class as high school students," Mr. Williams said.

Those seniors who did participate seemed most interested in the national debt, crime and light rail.

"Not much has changed," he said, "Crime, I've noticed, is still a big issue, as well as the debt and especially the upcoming elections."

He's already prepared to discuss in full the Bill Clinton-President Bush race, and he estimated that 65 percent to 70 percent of seniors felt Mr. Bush had let them down.

Maude Litzenberger, 68, says she will attend the forum because "seniors should be made aware of what's going on." Her big concerns include crime and child abuse.

"If we can understand these things, maybe we can help," she said.

Mildred Andretta, 77, said it was important for seniors to stand up and speak their minds. The government, she said, "is trying to take everything away from us. They don't pay any attention to us."

Albert Pardoe, 82, agreed. If more seniors would complain, he predicted, they'd get more attention. That's why he will attend the forum next week.

Mr. Williams is looking forward to his first meeting, set for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the senior center's conference room. But he admits to feeling somewhat intimidated.

As a high school teacher, "I was older, knew more and had more experience" than the students, he said. "I can't say the same about these people. Some of them are doctors and have master's degrees.

"I hope, if anything, it makes their day more meaningful," he said.

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