Every year, the Rockingham Civitans gather and cast secret nominations for the Citizen of the Year Award.
This year, one Rockingham native in particular seemed to shine above the rest, sweeping the secret ballots to win the honor.
Susan Sellers, Hamlet Senior Center director, was shocked to learn she had even been nominated for Citizen of the Year.
“I was humbled to find out about this,” said Sellers.
In her speech, Sellers said that she was always a very quiet child, and shared the memory of a teacher who was worried that she might never be an achiever in life.
Sellers said that “with only a high school education, I never had particularly high self-esteem” — until she found her place in life working with the elderly.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that I started working at the senior center 26 years ago,” she said. “I think the Lord led me there because that’s what I was meant to do.”
Sellers earned this year’s award because of “all the hard work and dedication she has shown for her community, her church, her family and the senior citizens of Richmond County,” said Richard Martin, Civitan president.
She’s not a member of the Civitans, but a community member who stands out because of her excellence.
“We’re all familiar with her work at the senior center,” said Charles Harrill, Civitan member. “The center is wonderful, there are so many participants, and people stick with it for years because of her. She’s made the Senior Games a big time thing in Richmond County too.”
“The Hamlet Senior Center is the only senior center in the county that is recognized by the state as a Senior Center of Excellence — and it’s because of Susan’s hard work,” said Martin.
“Everyone I know who has been through that center is very complimentary,” said Bill Fetherson, Civitan member. “She goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
In addition to making the Senior Games a “big time thing,” Sellers is also known for making fresh programs constantly available to seniors. Most recently, workshops on diabetes and chronic disease management have been made available, and Tai Chi classes will be starting at the Hamlet Senior Center soon.
“I just like making people happy, and helping people feel like they’ve accomplished something or learned something new,” said Sellers.
Born in Rockingham in 1953, Sellers’ parents are James and Sarah Burchette. She has been married to Gerald W. Sellers for more than 25 years. Her children are Brian Roller, Sarah Sutton and Geri Sellers. Her stepchildren are Tony and Todd Sellers.
She got her start working with the elderly by volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels, and later applied for a position at the Hamlet Senior Center. The rest is history.
“I’ve always felt a special connection with seniors — maybe because I was so close to my grandparents,” said Sellers.
In addition to her dedication to senior citizens, Sellers is an active member of Mount Olive Baptist Church, where she has served in several positions.
Sellers is a member and past Matron of The Eastern Star, is currently the Vice Queen of the Ladies Red Hatters, is helping plan Hamlet’s Old Fashioned Christmas event, and still finds time to spend with her family.
“When Susan makes up her mind to do something, she just won’t stop until she gets it done,” said her husband. “She has the determination and will to succeed, and her family is very proud of all she has done.”
“I never thought of myself as doing anything special, but this award sure makes me feel that way,” said Sellers, with tears in her eyes.”Thank you. This means a lot.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.