MATTHEWS – The last Tuesday of every month is a special day at Blessed Assurance Adult Day Care.
That’s the day that Coca-Cola Bottling sponsors a monthly birthday party for the senior and disabled adults of the center. But July 24 was a special birthday celebration, as Eliza Washington was the center of attention. The former school teacher will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 30. She is the fourth client at Blessed Assurance to reach the milestone of 100 in the past 19 years.
Not only was there a big happy birthday sign and three balloons that spelled out 100, but Washington got a six-pack of Coke that was personalized with the message: Happy Birthday Eliza. Washington also received a 100th Birthday Proclamation from Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers.
But the cake was what Washington was looking forward to the most. When Blessed Assurance CEO Nate Huggins asked if Washington was ready for cake, she just smiled and said, “Yeah.”
Cake, ice cream and Snickers bars are Washington’s favorites, at least in moderation.
Washington was a high school home economics and math teacher for 28 years in Florida. Her daughter, Vanessa Figgers of Charlotte, said that background helped her mother reach her 100th birthday.
“She taught cooking, nutrition, sewing and things like that,” Figgers said. “No. 1, she has always believed in nutrition. She also kept active after she retired.”
Playing bingo and participating in other social activities at Blessed Assurance and being an avid worker of crossword puzzles hasn’t hurt, either.
“She comes here every day and she enjoys it,” Figgers said. “It allows her to maintain a social life and be involved with people. She enjoys the activities. She talks about the bingo often. She is still pretty sharp. You will find a puzzle book or two in her book bag and several at the house.”
Washington retired from teaching in 1971 and moved to Charlotte to live with Figgers and her family five years ago. Washington’s husband, James, was a World War II veteran who died in the 1990s.
Reaching milestones is nothing new for Washington, who was born in South Carolina but moved to Florida when she was 2 years old. In the past several years, she has been recognized as the last living teacher at a high school where she taught in Florida and she is one of the last, if not the last, living graduate of the Class of 1942 at Florida A&M University, where she earned a degree in home economics.
Coca-Cola Bottling and its president Frank Harrison have been longtime supporters of Blessed Assurance’s mission.
“Coca-Cola has been a sponsor for 19 years,” Huggins said. “Mr. Frank Harrison approached Blessed Assurance 19 years ago and offered to help support our ministry because he is a man of God, too. Coca-Cola has always supported us in all of our operations. With the support we have from Coca-Cola and other entities, it makes living worthwhile for these people.”