By Faye Gaston
The annual Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame awards ceremony was held at the RSA Activity Center in Montgomery, Alabama, on Sunday, August 21, 2022. Inductees were introduced by name and cities across the state of Alabama with a summary of reasons for the nominations. Ten were inducted into the Hall of Fame class of 2022, four for the Lifetime Achievement Commendation, and thirteen for Special Awards recipients.
There were also twenty-two couples inducted for being married 65 years or more and twenty-two senior citizens reaching 100 years of age or older. Tommie L. Swanson O'Neal of Bullock County was inducted into the Hall of Fame category of Special Awards, Community Service.
Among the speakers on the program was Jean Brown, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Senior Services, who said, "It is a privilege and an honor to recognize a group of seniors who have contributed so much for improving the lives of older Alabamians. While our routines have been altered in the past couple of years because of the Global pandemic, the commitment, dedication, and service by this group of seniors has remained steadfast."
The printed program gave a summary of the service by Tommie O'Neal, a resident of Bullock County, "Tommie O'Neal has been a fixture at the Union Springs Senior Citizens Nutrition Center for many years. She volunteers in the kitchen, transports participants to the Nutrition Center, helps plan special events and meals, and serves as chairman of the Birthday Club, the Donations to Sick and Bereaved Club, and the Christmas Savings Club.
"O'Neal is a member of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where she volunteers in numerous ways. Some of these include the Superintendent of Sunday School, usher, Home Aids Society, and kitchen committee.
"She was Vice-President of Union Hill Home Aid Society, head of the kitchen committee of Old Pine Grove District Center, member of Highway 51 Volunteer Fire Department, and president of Ladies of the Eighties.
"O'Neal makes bi-weekly visits to the local nursing home and transports friends to work, church, and town when needed. In her spare time, she loves to bake friendship bread to give to others."
In response to receiving this honor, O'Neal said she thanked Faye B. Gaston for nominating her into the Hall of Fame. Gaston is a participant of the Union Springs Senior Citizens Nutrition Center. O'Neal said most of all she thanked God for this honor.
Those in attendance at the awards ceremony to congratulate O'Neal on this honor were: her pastor Rev. James Robbins and his wife, Brenda; son Moses and wife Dorothy Swanson; son Alexander and wife Teresa Swanson; daughter Vivian O'Neal; and sister Martha Jones. Also in attendance were several of O'Neal's cousins and members of her church family.
This honor has been announced across Bullock County, and many have expressed congratulations to O'Neal on this well-deserved honor.
Participants at the Union Springs Nutrition Center were especially pleased for O'Neal.