A trip with the Suffolk Gemmes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

I hadn’t planned to attend the board of directors meeting for the National Les Gemmes Inc. in Baltimore last weekend.

But at the insistence of our past president and present treasurer, Audrey Knight, I began to pack my bags last Thursday.

My other sisters attending from the Suffolk Les Gemmes chapter were Gail Hinton-Copeland, Gracie Eure and Joyce Garretson. We, along with delegates and members from the Yorktown, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Portsmouth chapters, traveled together on a chartered bus by Eddies’ Bus Service. Only 28 members – including one of the organization’s founders, Lena Siler from Yorktown – from the five clubs went so each of us rode comfortably in our own seat.

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The Suffolk chapter was picked up at 10 a.m. Friday at the Food Lion Supermarket on Portsmouth Boulevard.

We arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Baltimore at 5 p.m. with a roster of fun activities awaiting us, and returned to Suffolk at 4 p.m. Sunday.

On Friday night, we had a reception and entertainment event that featured food, music, karaoke performances and bingo. Upon arrival, each member was given a number from one through six. We were asked to join those who had similar numbers to sing karaoke songs which were sung in groups of about 15 people.

I am proud to say that the number five group that Garretson and I were part of won second place. Knight’s group was in won third.

I am happy to announce that Copeland, who has a dynamic voice, was in the group that won first place – and came home with beautiful trophies. Before the evening ended,

the Baltimore chapter made sure almost everyone ended up receiving lovely prizes with several games.

Our board of directors meeting was held in one of the ballrooms on Saturday. The special guest was James McNeil, who demonstrated therapeutic exercises he has been has been doing for 20 years for senior citizens, children with Attention Deficit Disorder and other interested groups.

The exercises are usually done in a sitting position and involve the eyes, head, legs, arms and chest areas.

According to McNeil, you can move your eyeballs from side to side and up and down to release tension from your forehead. You can move your head in a circle to exercise muscles in your neck and shoulders. With your legs, you can press up on your toes and pat your feet in a running motion to tighten leg and thigh muscles. Reach up your arms as high as you can to stretch muscles in the stomach area. Take deep breaths and let them out through your lips in a sizzling sound, do the same thing again and let air out with a loud shout. This will strengthen the heart or cardiac area.

McNeil said he has exercises that cover the entire body and they should be done at least three times a week. He stressed that most of these exercises are extremely good for people who are unable to walk.

Each chapter elected new local officers in January. Last weekend, National President Shirline Johnson from the Atlanta, Ga., chapter, presented all outgoing presidents with Certificates of Appreciation.

Knight, president of the Suffolk chapter for six consecutive years, was one of those recipients. She has led us in sponsoring meaningful and successful programs. We are proud of her.

A dance team from nearby Baltimore State College performed during Saturday’s luncheon.

We are grateful to the Baltimore Chapter of Les Gemmes Inc. for a fun weekend.

The Suffolk chapter welcomes Gracie Eure as our newly elected president and is looking forward to helping her promote future programs. The next one will be a dinner theater in tribute to Mother’s Day titled &uot;A Mother’s Revenge,&uot; which will begin on time at 5 p.m. May 15 at Temple Beth El. If you want to enjoy good food, fellowship and laughter, make sure to circle that date on your calendar.

Evelyn Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.