This coffee group was the beginning of what would shortly become the Over The Hill Gang, Inc.
The following is information from the club archives:
What a success our Thursday lunch is! So how did that ever get started? One day Chigger Gardner said, “I sure do like cornbread and a bowl of beans “
Loraine Williams said, “Chigger, next Thursday I’ll have you a pot of beans and some cornbread.” And that’s the story of how this all started. At some point James Hanley secured permission from Williamson county to use this building for our meetings
You have been generous with your donations each week. We have enough to buy plates, cups, napkins, bowls, small plates, paper towels, people paper, sugar, creamer, liquid plumber, large and small trash bags, and all those kinds of things that keep us going. In addition, we buy the
meat, potatoes, or whatever we’re having for the main dish.
There is no schedule, no roster, no clean-up crew. Whoever shows up always finds something to do … put the food stuff away, vacuum, take out the trash, wash dishes. All help is welcome, but if you don’t want to do anything, that’s okay, too. (It would help if you would clean up your table.)
WHAT YOU CAN BRING
If you’re wondering what to bring, this should help. We rely on you to bring desserts, casseroles, jello, vegetables, etc.
WE ALSO WANT YOUR SUGGESTIONS!
Give us some good ideas. This is your place. Fix it. Mess it up. Clean it up. Most of all .. ENJOY IT.
The following is an article from Liberty Hill Living July 19, 2015.
By Dana Delgado
July 19, 2015 by Liberty Hill Living
Since its ambitious beginnings in 1998, seniors have flocked to the unpretentious brick building at 3307 RR 1869. While the organization has wrapped itself in a host of civic and social activities since its inception, its central rallying event has become the weekly 11:30 a.m. home cooked luncheons held every Thursday.
So endearing the assembly and so etched the date and time on every member’s calendar, one might believe it was a family reunion. In many ways, it is. The only thing is that most attending are not related, but affectionately connected through enduring friendships. No one could have imagined what the future would hold when the Over the Hill Gang opened its doors to Liberty Hill’s senior citizens 17 years ago. For all the seniors that have come and gone and those that faithfully continue to wander through its doors, the place has been a lifesaver, a refuge, and a home away from home where age has its rewards like rich memories, perpetual needs like the need to continue to belong and the realization that time is precious.
Loraine Williams, one of the charter members who helped formed the non-profit organization with 40-50 members and who has served as the group’s president and treasurer, said the original intent of the group was to “get people out of their rocking chairs.”
“We wanted to give them (Liberty Hill’s senior citizens) a meeting place,” Williams said. “It’s been a good thing for many reasons for a lot of people, but we have lost many members along the way. It’s good to come and sit down and chat with neighbors. Sometimes we stay for quite a while.” The organization, with an active membership ranging from 45-70, is open to anyone 50 years of age or older. Most members, according to current organization President Dean Klein, are in their 60’s, but there are a number of members in their 70’s and 80’s. Klein, who moved to Liberty Hill in 2010 with his wife, first became aware of the organization in 2011 when his neighbor, who was running for the group’s presidency, invited him and his wife to one of the luncheons. He never really left and has been leading the group for the past year along with Tom Sandlin, vice president; Harold Cox, secretary; and Beth Blair, treasurer. Sam Blair and Benny Carson are serving as the organization’s directors.
“That (Over the Hill Gang) was my baby,” said Suzy Bates who was the first president for a number of years. “I had just retired and needed something to do. At first the building was just a game place, but when one member’s wife died, the luncheon started when her husband was so hungry for beans and cornbread. That’s how it (the luncheon) got started. Now we consistently have a big crowd including the Constables who always come for lunch. It’s been a very special place to me and the only place where I can see all my friends.”
Williams said the Over the Hill Gang started out as an organization for local seniors, but now welcomes members from throughout the region including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Bastrop and Bertram. Bertram resident Gayle Atkins, a newcomer to the organization, said she finds the group to be very welcoming and friendly as has Liberty Hill resident Bernice Noland.
“I enjoy coming,” said Noland, who has been active with the group for the past couple of years. The Minnesota native, who spent 34 years in the Rio Grande Valley, said she settled in Liberty Hill and kept hearing about the group but could never find them. Once she found them, she became an active member. “I enjoy the people, the food, the games (board games and Dominoes) and having a nice time,” she said. Over the years, the group has held birthday celebrations and has been active in Fourth of July and Christmas festivities as well as Easter egg hunts. Members have also worked with a number of community organizations including the Lions Club, local Girl Scouts, various youth sports leagues and Meals on Wheels.
As a non-profit, the organization relies on the generosity of its members as well as the community. Williamson County has not only allowed the organization to use its former county annex but maintains the building, which is also used by other groups for special meetings or events. By charter agreement, members are not charged dues so the organization depends on everyone to pitch in and help with various duties. Some members clean and wash dishes while others provide desserts and still others make a donation towards the meal.
For the past five years, Jane Allman has been volunteering as the Kitchen Director serving up delicious home cooked meals. Allman has also been a past Vice President, but has decided to relinquish her kitchen responsibilities to enjoy the benefits of membership. A group of volunteers from Grace Alive Church in Liberty Hill will be taking over the duties of preparing the weekly meal for the area’s seniors.
“We’re excited to be helping out,” said Pastor Dawn Slack of Grace Alive Church. “We’ve seen the hard work she (Jane Allman) does in the kitchen. They love her. The Lord spoke to my heart when I heard she was stepping down. We’re always looking for opportunities to help the community. This (Over the Hill Gang) is a great group.”
On July 15, 2015 the Over the Hill Gang celebrates its 17th anniversary. It started out as a gathering opportunity for the area’s senior citizens, but has become something much more noteworthy. It is not only a credit but a tribute to those that have helped shape Liberty Hill. As the organization continues to thrive and serve, a memory wall inside the Over the Hill Gang building prominently displays the names of all the members who have passed but are not forgotten.
The following is an article in “The Independent” from July 2, 2018.
Over the Hill Gang celebrates 20 years
Jul 2, 2018.
By Dana Delgado
Reminiscent of the closing scene of the holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the entire town rallies around George Bailey as the savior of the community, the Over the Hill Gang jubilantly gathered last week to mark its 20th Anniversary.
The biggest difference is that unlike the movie’s fictional town – Bedford Falls – the OTHG rallies every week; the anniversary just happened to be a little more special because it is such a milestone since many questioned its transformational impact at its inception.
A record-breaking crowd attended the June 21 celebration, which hailed the organization’s success in supporting the area’s seniors and recognized its visionary and awe-inspiring founders. After sounding a whistle, current OTHG President Dorothy Hill welcomed all those in attendance and thanked those for their time and efforts in helping stage the event including Claire Klein, Betty West, Jane and Angel Allman, and Dottie Ross, as well as members of the sheriff’s department, the constable’s office, and Grace Alive Church. Opening comments were followed by the recognition of the charter members, the presentation of a floral bouquet to Lorraine Williams who was honored for being one of the organization’s founders and a moment of remembrance of those members lost before saying grace and breaking bread.
“I thought it was amazing,” said Hill. “The 85 in attendance broke our previous record of 81, which was set at a recent Christmas celebration. It took a whole bunch of people to make it happen but it went so well. Everyone was there.” The Liberty Hill Police Department and Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 were among the guests in attendance.
“I’m glad the center is here for Liberty Hill and its seniors,” said Mayor Rick Hall who attended the event. “It’s a nice, inviting place, which provides a good time and fellowship.”
In a conversation with Hill at the event, Hall gave her assurances that the brick building at 2207 RR 1869, which the city is expected to assume ownership from the county, would continue to serve as the home for the OTHG as long as he is mayor. The pledge by the mayor was announced by Hall to all those in attendance.
“I had tears in my eyes,” Hill said. “I felt like everything was going to be okay.”
Williamson County was also well represented with Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long leading the delegation, which also included Sheriff Robert Chody and members of the Constable’s office.
“The longevity of the Over the Hill Gang is a testimony to the individuals who have been involved and committed to ‘the gang’ through the years,” said Commissioner Long. “The group is about relationships and staying connected to one another in an increasingly disconnected world. They truly care about each other. They rejoice together and they weep together. They break bread together and fellowship together. The members of the Over the Hill Gang, past and present, are an example to us all of community. They are a family that I am honored to be part of.” Hill was excited to see that both founding members were able to attend the festivities.
“I wanted them to celebrate their dream,” she said. “Lorraine was a firecracker even back then. James Hanley had connections with Precinct 2, which helped get our foot in the door in getting the building. She (Loraine Williams) wanted something for the seniors because there was nothing in Liberty Hill. Men were just sitting around and watching TV. Women had nothing except go to church or visit some friends. She thought it was important to get them out. Suzy was in real estate, got our tax exemption and set up the bylaws and has been a contributor for years.”
“People said that seniors in Liberty Hill would never come out to the center at the beginning,” said Williams who moved to Liberty Hill in the 1960s when her husband retired from the military. “At first, we hoped they would come down and eat. We planned for snacks along with beans and cornbread. I’m so honored to have been a part of the OTHG; it’s always been about fellowship. Without Suzy (Bates), it would not have been possible. She played a big part in all this. She has the personality.”. Hill went on to say that the founders “started with nothing.”
“The old timers scrounged around and got an old frig, a stove and this and that and built up a piecemeal of furniture which we have gradually updated,” Hill added. “While we started with only serving beans, Jane Allman and I kept adding to the meal, a bit at a time. Beans remained a staple but we gradually added an entry, a salad, and a fruit salad and there has always been friend chicken. A good home-cooked meal is important to seniors who rarely cook for themselves. They all need it.”
Teresa Garner first started coming to the OTHG as a guest of her husband since she was not quite 50.
“It was social time; something to do,” she said. “It gave us a sense of belonging.”
Melba Loveless, who moved to the area in 1997 from Houston, found herself a bit isolated when the local VFW Auxiliary dissolved.
“I decided to go over to the OTHG to eat,” she said. “I found it very social and friendly. You just have to get up and start talking to people. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
“As the current president, I’m fortunate to help keep it growing,” Hill said. “It’s been awesome. While it’s been painful to lose some of our members, we are grateful to have had them for a while.”
Any area senior 50 years or older is invited to join them for fellowship and a meal every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The first meal is free; afterwards, individuals are asked to donate $5 for their meal.
Seniors can also gather on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a variety of table games including canasta, dominos, and bridge. The non-profit organization has been able to serve its members, maintain the building, and grow as a result of public donations.
The following is from “The Independent” August 27, 2021.
Over the Hill Gang stops meetings, again
Aug 27, 2021. By Rachel Madison
When the Over the Hill Gang restarted their weekly Thursday luncheons in April after a 14-month hiatus due to COVID, they had high hopes they were back for good.
Unfortunately, due to the most recent surge in COVID cases because of the Delta variant, the gang made the decision Aug. 19 to suspend all meetings until further notice.
“The board came to an agreement that due to the increased threat of COVID, this will be the last Over the Hill Gang meeting until there is clear evidence that it is once again safe,” said Tom Williams, president of the organization, during his weekly announcements. “There’s no way we can social distance in here, and I personally would feel somewhat responsible if any of you got sick because of being here and even worse if you died from it, so we are going to try to avoid that.”.
Williams said before the pandemic, around 70 people would attend the weekly Over the Hill meetings for food and fellowship. Since the group started meeting again a few months ago, there have been dwindling numbers, with the last few weeks only bringing in around 25 people.
“Our group is just continuing to get smaller,” he said. “There are a lot of people already not coming. With the COVID cases on the rise and the new variant, plus the age of our group and the assorted ailments that go along with that age, I don’t feel comfortable with us gathering.”
Area seniors ages 50 years and older are eligible to join the gang.
During the group’s hiatus, Williams said he didn’t hear of anyone in the group contracting COVID, but he believes that was because everyone took isolating very seriously. And even when the gang started meeting again, many still weren’t ready to socialize and didn’t attend the weekly luncheon.
Although he is glad his group members are staying safe, Williams also worries about those who live alone and don’t get the chance to socialize much outside of Over the Hill Gang events.
“My wife and I were together isolating, and I mentioned to her how terrible this would be to go through alone,” Williams said. “It’s hard even for us not having people to talk to all the time.”
Because of the age of the group, Williams said they didn’t try any virtual meetings.
“While we were apart, we were apart,” he said. “I know there were a lot of friends here who tried to stay in contact, but it’s hard to play Canasta or Dominos over a virtual meeting.”
During the Over the Hill Gang’s absence from their meeting space in the County Annex building behind Parker’s Market, former Mayor Rick Hall rented out half of the building to The Village, a daycare for adults with disabilities. “We wanted to come back bigger and better, but it’s hard to come back bigger and better when you don’t have the space to meet,” said Ella Williams, one of the directors for the Over the Hill Gang’s board. “There’s no way we can social distance in just half our building. We love The Village—they are a wonderful bunch of people—and I’m all for finding a good place for them to be, which this was while we were gone, but I hope when we come back, we have more space.”
Tom Williams said Hall didn’t know how much the Over the Hill Gang group used the building, and while the gang doesn’t own the building, the group does own everything inside the building.
“We were promised a new building under the previous mayor,” he added. “They were going to move us across the street and build a new community center, but as you see, we are still here and there is still [city-owned] machinery over there [across the street]. I guess that was impacted by COVID also. However, if you ran a survey amongst our members, you wouldn’t find too many in favor of giving up this building. Instead, they just want to have our room back.”.
Current Mayor Liz Branigan said she has big plans for the Over the Hill Gang’s future and is currently looking into grant options to fund the building of a senior community center where the group can meet when they start their meetings once again.
Recent History June 24, 2022. By Tom Williams
After the crazy spike in new Covid cases in January 2022 my heart sank. I had been truly hoping that OTHG could begin gathering again in the new year. January became February which became March. In March we returned to OTHG but without serving a meal, because there were still concerns about Covid and food safety.
Attendance varied week to week between 5 and 12. We brought our own lunches and played games.
We were making plans to start serving lunch again in May. However, the city of Liberty Hill, which owns the building, suspended us once again. They used the building for an early voting site from mid April through the end of May.
June 2nd we came back with our first meal together in all too many months. We had a pizza party. The following week we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, jello fruit salad. And, of course, a pot of beans. Meals have officially started.
Through all the ups and downs of the past couple of years some of our former regular-attenders have passed away. Some regulars haven’t returned as quickly as is hoped. But the bright spot is we are attracting new members.
We’ve also expanded to a once a month First Friday Potluck and Game Night.
OVER THE HILL GANG July 7, 2022 by Tom Williams
www.OverTheHillGangLHTX.Com Something amazing is happening at OTHG. We had closed our doors because we feared for the lives of our members. The pandemic ebbed and flowed. We would, with hope in our hearts, sputter and spark trying to bring the membership back to it’s glory days. But the movement just couldn’t seem to catch fire. Many of us have grown timid, hesitant, and fearful. Then the amazing thing happened! We tried something new. We began using social media to invite people. And they came. Nearly half of the people who were there today weren’t members a month ago. It just goes to show that the roots of this twenty-four year old organization are still strong enough to bring new life to this self-funded senior center. We can still fulfill our mission to bring socialization, recreational, and educational opportunities to those folks 50+.
The Liberty Hill Digest July 2022 issue
Participation in group activities and community organizations is believed to be associated with better health status in our senior population. But don’t let the name of this group fool you-this is a lively bunch. The members of the Over The Hill Gang are never too old for good fellowship, fun times, and even better food.
The gang was founded in 1998 by Carl and Lorraine Williams after Liberty Hillian Chigger Gardner was looking for a good bowl of beans and some cornbread. Lorraine Williams told Chigger, “Next Thursday I’ll have you a pot of beans and some cornbread,” and that’s how this family-reunion-style Thursday lunch began. The thriving group quickly grew, and at one time had 150 members.
In 2020, the group took a hiatus due to pandemic concerns. Last month, they had their official re-opening with 28 attendees and 6 new members. “It’s about the care and feeding of people ages 50 or better,” group president Tom Williams (opposite page) says, “It’s about giving them something to do. We eat, we visit, and we play games like canasta or dominos, With aging often comes isolation, especially for single folks. This group gives them an outlet to come and socialize, We share a meal and break bread together.” .
BE A PART OF IT.
This fun group is looking to grow. Tom and friends offer a standing invitation to everyone 50 years or older who enjoys good fellowship, laughing until their cheeks hurt, fun games, and good comfort food all in the style of a family reunion, to join the gang.
STom shared his thoughts on reaching this age of “maturity” at the June 9 meetup, “When we reach this age we finally understand that being over the hill beats being under the hill. Our idea of a hot time is holding a heating pad on our bad back. We and our teeth have decided that a separation is the best idea for our relationship, Getting high means that it’s time to take your blood pressure medication. Finally, we can now trust our friends more because we can’t even remember each other’s names let alone what we did in the past.” And before he put the mic down he reminded the group that their photo might appear in the Liberty Hill Digest, “So, if any of you have any outstanding warrants, let us know so we can blur your face.”
Humor definitely ripens with age.