McKinney named to Alabama Senior Citizens HOF 2023 class

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Senior Connection director Vanessa McKinney will become one of the newest members of the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame after being chosen as a member of the class of 2023 this week. McKinney, who has been a part of Senior Connection for over 30 years, received a letter in the mail that told her about the honor.

“The Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame honors and recognizes Alabamians aged 60 or older for their outstanding contributions to the lives of older members in their local communities since 1983,” the website for the program said.

Carolyn Fortner, one of McKinney’s former bosses, called her and said she nominated her for the honor.

“I was very surprised I got it,” McKinney said. “I am very humbled by receiving it, and I really appreciate Carolyn Fortner. She is one of my mentors.”

McKinney’s 30 years of work with Senior Connection began when Marilyn Colson, current Chilton County DHR director, hired her while the two worked at the old Clanton hospital. Since then, McKinney has helped grow the organization into a place where the senior citizens of Chilton County can come for fellowship and find their niche later in life.

“This place has grown and it means so much to so many people and the senior citizens in the whole county, not just Clanton,” McKinney said. “I think it is a great marketing tool for the county. People are retiring here every day, and they are looking for something to do like this. They need somewhere to go to have purpose and value. Their grandkids have gotten older now, and some members are in their 70s. They need value and self-worth for themselves. They have always been my heart.”

Senior Connection has close to 600 members involved with it throughout Chilton County. In the future, McKinney said one of her main goals is to hopefully become part of the Clanton Parks and Recreation Department for the senior citizens. This will give every age group in Clanton a section of the department devoted solely to them.

“Baseball and softball have their parks for young kids and teenagers … They recently started pickleball and that is a big thing for 40s and 50s,” McKinney said. “Seniors kind of get lost in the shuffle, and we need to keep our focus on them as well. I just appreciate all of the leaders of the Chilton County community that know how important this is. It is a great thing.”

McKinney thanked Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims and the Chilton County Commission specifically for all of their help in keeping Senior Connection prominent in the county.

McKinney plans on attending the hall of fame ceremony on Aug. 20 in Montgomery at the RSA Activity Center. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. and a reception will follow after to honor all of the recipients. Friends and family are invited to attend as well, and McKinney said she hopes some of the members and fellow staff at Senior Connection will come out and enjoy it with her.