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Royal treatment for Mother’s Day

Mon., May 14, 2007, midnight

Some of them silently walk the streets of downtown Spokane, occasionally talking to themselves. Others have disabilities or physical ailments that mostly confine them to their homes or care facilities.

But on Sunday, 140 women received a Mother’s Day extravaganza on the top floor of the Red Lion Hotel at the Park.

“I feel like a queen, but I know I’m not,” said 79-year-old B.J. Littlejohn after she finished a dance with Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession. “Oh, I think this is the most marvelous thing. They do so much for the seniors here in Spokane.

“Otherwise, these people would all be unhappy.”

Littlejohn finally made it to the 9th annual I Remember Mama luncheon by Spokane’s Volunteers of America. They dined on fine food, heard professional music and were given a gift bag to take home.

Executive Director Marilee Roloff said the idea was borrowed from the Volunteers of America in New Orleans.

“It’s just a way to give women who would be alone on Mother’s Day a special event,” Roloff said.

The group included a handful of homeless women and dozens from low-income care facilities, said organizer Sarah Howard.

“We have a committee of 20 women who put this all together, and we had over 50 volunteers,” Howard said. “There is no better way to spend Mother’s Day. It’s the highlight of the year for most of them.”

Suzanne Beecher, 59, spends months at a time in her home because ailments make it difficult to get around, she said. Beecher read about the event in The Spokesman-Review and called to see if there was any room left.

“I’m low-income and disabled, so thought I would give it a try,” said Beecher, who has a stepdaughter and five step-grandchildren. “I think it is absolutely wonderful. This is really overwhelming.”

Hession said every mother should be celebrated on Mother’s Day. He took the time Sunday to call each member of his staff who is a mother, he said.

“This is a wonderful way to do this for women who can’t be with their family,” Hession said.

Amanda Cox, 21, Terri Markelin and Janisse Russell, 48, all came to celebrate in memory of their neighbor Starlett Wood, who recently died at the age of 60. All three women live in the Applewood Apartments in Spokane Valley.

“She was the most wonderful woman in the world,” Markelin said of Wood.

“She’d help everybody all the time and she would give you the shirt off her back. She used to come to this every year.”

Markelin, 61, who has a daughter, said she is eternally grateful to Volunteers of America for the event.

“We really appreciate feeling special at least one day a year,” she said.


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