Eggerts Crossing Village honors senior citizens

Scott Jacobs
Animals were lively at Colonial Lake Park in Lawrence Township on Nov 2.

When Earline Greene moved into her sister’s apartment at Eggerts Crossing Village to share it with her, it felt like she was coming home.

Greene often visited her sister at the affordable housing development that is located at 175 Johnson Ave., just off Eggerts Crossing Road in Lawrence Township.

She also visited their brother, who lived on Emden Avenue, which is just across the way from Eggerts Crossing Village.

And Greene also was friendly with a family that attended the same church that she did, and who also lived in Eggerts Crossing Village – so, indeed, it felt like she was coming home when she moved in with her sister, Odessa Merriweather.

“(Eggerts Crossing Village) became like a second home to me,” said Greene, who moved in with her older sister 14 years ago.

Eggerts Crossing Village, which opened its doors in 1974, is the result of an assessment of the needs of the poor conducted by two ministers – the Rev. Dana Fearon III of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Norman Kent of the Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church.

The survey, which grew out of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty,” revealed the need for housing to replace substandard housing in the Eggerts Crossing neighborhood – houses with cracks in the floorboards, no indoor plumbing and, in some case, houses that lacked heat.

Meanwhile Greene, who is a retired elementary school teacher, was one of four of the oldest residents of Eggerts Crossing Village who were honored at a special luncheon Aug. 21 – Senior Citizens Day.

National Senior Citizens Day, which is celebrated on Aug. 21, was created by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. He issued a proclamation that declared that “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute.”

And that’s what the new Senior Citizens Day luncheon at Eggerts Crossing Village is all about.

Flora Reading, the tenant coordinator at the housing development, said she became aware of Senior Citizens Day and mulled over how to celebrate it with the residents.

“I thought, ‘Why not honor our oldest residents,'” Reading said.

The honorees – Greene, Merriweather, Phyllis Sutton and Lizzie Corbin – were excited about it, she said.

Greene and Merriweather, who were dressed in matching purple dresses, are the youngest of the nine children of James Boyd Evans and his wife, Henrietta Evans.

Greene, who is 74 years old, said she moved to Trenton when she was in 3rd grade. Her older siblings had already moved to Trenton from their hometown of Marion, S.C.

“They brought my parents to Trenton, and then we joined them,” Greene said. Her parents were sharecroppers – subsistence farmers – in South Carolina.

Greene, meanwhile, was inspired to become a teacher and to follow in the footsteps of a favored teacher who taught her for three years in elementary school.

“I emulated her character,” Greene said of that teacher.

Greene taught in the Mt. Sinai Seventh Day Adventist Church for many years, and also taught in the Trenton Public School District. She was named a New Jersey Governor’s Teacher of the Year for three consecutive years.

Merriweather, like her younger sister, graduated from Trenton Central High School. She worked at the Educational Testing Service for more than 30 years.

Merriweather, who is 77 years old, belongs to the Friendship Baptist Church and is active in many civic groups – from the Order of the Eastern Star (an affiliate of Freemasonry, or the Masonic Lodge) to the Urban League of Metropolitan Trenton and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. She is a foster parent of two daughters.

For her efforts, Merriweather has received awards from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs, Friendship Baptist Church and Khufu Temple 120, which is the Masonic Lodge in Trenton.

Phyllis Sutton, who was also honored, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and grew up in Monmouth Junction. The 73-year-old woman belongs to the New Destiny Family Worship Center in New Brunswick.

Sutton, who has lived in Eggerts Crossing Village for more than 20 years, worked for the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles as an audit clerk. She has two children and five grandchildren.

Lizzie Mae Corbin, 82, was among the first wave of residents of Eggerts Crossing Village when it opened its doors in 1974. She moved to New Jersey from Virginia in 1951. She has lived in Lawrence Township for almost 60 years.

Corbin was among the group of women who formed a group called the ECV Clovets, whose main purpose was to help families in need within the small community that made up Eggerts Crossing Village.

Corbin, who has seven children, also worked for the Eggerts Crossing Village summer camp as the camp cook. She helped to raise and offer guidance to many children who lived in the development, in addition to her own children.