AARP Blacksburg Chapter #2613
Serving the New River Valley Since 1976

It was a very successful year of programs. Thanks to all who participated in these events.

2017 Programs


Monthly member meetings are held at the Blacksburg Community Center at 725 Patrick Henry Drive in Blacksburg. Members gather at 11:30am for a brown bag lunch. Educational programs are presented at each of these meetings and begins at 12:00noon. The schedule for 2017 is shown below.


January 17: NRV Livability Initiatives presented by Jessica Wirgau, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley


February 21: Railroading in the New River Valley presented by Bud Jefferies, official historian for the 611 Steam Excursion Program for the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke and owner of the Engles Farm in Radford


March 21: Update on Blacksburg Sojourn Center presented by Anne Campbell. More about this local hospice service can be seen at


Sojourn Center is a community based nonprofit organization dedicated to state-of-the-art compassionate care for terminally ill people and their families in the New River Valley.  Sojourn Center will build a hospice house in the New River Valley to serve hospice patients who temporarily need more intensive care, or who can no longer be cared for at home, as well as hospice patients who need short term respite care so their family can take a break from care giving.

Sojourn Center’s hospice house will provide a lovely, peaceful and comfortable setting for both the  patient and their loved ones at the bedside. In addition, the house will become a training site for students of medicine and nursing to learn appropriate care for dying people in a setting where death is considered an expected and normal part of life – an event to be honored, without the stigma of a “failure” by modern medicine. Sojourn Center will improve the culture of end-of-life care in the New River Valley.

Dr. Tina Smusz, Hospice and Palliative Care physician and Vice President of the Sojourn Center Board,  and Anne Campbell, President of the Sojourn Center Board, will speak to AARP on March 21 about Sojourn Center’s plans for our future.


April 18: Perspectives on the Dialogue on Race presented by Lisa Garcia. This presentation will give us a glimpse into the scope and character of the Dialogue on Race and how it has cooperated with other community organizations to reach its current status. More can be see at their website:


Growing up White and Learning about Compound Interest

Lisa Garcia is the chair of the Limited Presence Issue Group for Dialogue on Race – a grassroots effort to end racial injustice against African Americans in Montgomery County, Va. Her presentation will explore racial injustice from the perspective of a white woman born in the South and now living in a college town. This is a story that begins with express education about the advantages of being a “WASP” through years of “white fragility” and efforts to “be a good person” to a place of hyper-local service.  Through her story Lisa will engage audience members and expand the learning around how to share the African American story so that it can really be heard and accessible.


May 16: Brain Health presented by Wenday Baldwin, Vice President of AARP Blacksburg Chapter


The May meeting will feature a presentation on brain health. This is an AARP presentation that Wendy Baldwin will deliver.  The presentation includes a very accessible summary of what we know about the importance of brain health and practical steps you can take to support brain health. With improving life expectancy most of us are going to face the challenge of changes in cognitive functioning.  This is an engaging overview of the risks to brain health as well as specific, concrete steps you can take to support brain health.


You can view the PowerPoint slides of this presentation here.


June 20: The Annual Picnic will be held on June 15 at the home of Terry Wildman and Sue Magliaro art 3335 Elk Creek Drive in Christiansburg. More information about the event will appear here as the details are known.


September 19: Reflections on Cuba presented by members of the group of travelers to Cuba in January 2017 as part of the Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech.


Learn about Cuban history and current challenges, music and dance, healthcare, Cuba–U.S. relations, and more from several travelers on a recent Lifelong Learning Institute charter to Cuba.  Enjoy vicariously the wonderful people, food, and places of this vibrant and changing culture. Hear how the Cuban people regard the United States and what they would like the relationship of our countries to be, and what Americans could learn from Cuba’s own experiences and achievements.


October 17Aging in Place presented by Jessica Wirgau and Kim Thurlow of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley


Aging in Place in the New River Valley

According to the NRV Livability Initiative, the population of residents ages 65+ in our region will double by 2030. The vast majority of older adults want to remain in their homes and communities as they age, yet our region currently lacks the housing and services necessary to support our aging population. Beginning in 2013, several regional agencies came together to form the Aging in Place Leadership Team focused on specific projects and policies that will help NRV residents remain in their homes and communities as they age. Kim Thurlow and Jessica Wirgau of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, one of the AiP partner agencies, will provide an overview of the team's work to date, specific projects that will have a lasting impact on our region, and lessons learned as the work continues.


October 26: Join the AARP Blacksburg Chapter and Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech in their Second Annual Social on 26 October from 4:30pm - 7pm. This event is an opportunity for these two organizations to celebrate their partnership and their mutual successes within the past year. Funds raised will be used to benefit both organizations. One ticket entitles the purchaser to a glass of wine or standard wine tasting and an appetizer (paired with wine). Tickets are $25.00 each and can be purchased online at Bring your friends and join the fun!


November 21: A Case Study of the Hyjacking of Egyptair Flight 648 will be presented by Virginia Tech Chief of Police, Kevin Foust.


Chief Foust will conduct a case review of the hijacking, the investigation and the subsequent capture and successful prosecution of Rezaq.            

On November 23-24, 1985, Egyptair Flight 648 was hijacked by three heavily armed hijackers shortly after take-off from Athens, Greece bound for Cairo, Egypt.  The terrorists were members of the much-feared Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), a splinter group of the PLO.  There were 89 passengers and 6 crew members on board.  One of the hijackers was killed shortly after taking over the plane in a desperate gun battle at 35,000 feet between himself and an armed Egyptian sky marshal.  A bullet pierced the skin of the aircraft and the crippled plane was forced to land on the island of Malta.  

During the hijacking the lead hijacker, Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq, personally shot 5 passengers (2 Israeli and 3 American) in the head, killing two.  59 additional people, including one of the two remaining hijackers, were killed in the rescue attempt by Egyptian commandos making this the bloodiest hijacking in history until the events of 9/11. 

Rezaq, the lone surviving hijacker, was critically wounded during the rescue attempt.  He recovered from his wounds and pled guilty to a number of crimes on Malta and was sentenced to the maximum sentence at the time, 35 years in prison.

Rezaq was released from prison in 1993 after only serving 8 years of his sentence.  A team of FBI agents traveled to Africa where they captured Rezaq.  They brought Rezaq back to Washington, DC, where he stood trial for and was convicted of the crime of Air Piracy.  He was sentenced to life in prison and remains in a US federal prison to this day.  One of the FBI team members that participated in the capture of Rezaq and was the primary FBI Special Agent for the prosecution team was current Virginia Tech Police Department Chief of Police Kevin Foust.

DecemberHoliday Luncheon, scheduled for Tuesday, December 5, at Warm Hearh Village Center, 11:30am - 1:00pm. The chapter will celebrate it accomplishements in 2017, award members for exemplary service, and make donations to selective non-profit community organizations. More information and ticket prices will appear in the November newsletter.