National Senior Citizens Day, Aug. 21,  is the day to let seniors know how much they are cared for and this is an opportunity to recognize their accomplishments. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the holiday to raise awareness about issues that affect senior citizens and their quality of life.

Last Sunday, centenarian Annie Woods Juarez was honored on her 108th birthday at the Christ Temple Church of Christ in South Los Angeles. The special event benefited The Hazelle Catherine Bass Institute for the Arts and a special scholarship named in Juarez’ honor.

The historic occasion was presented by The Hazelle Catherine Bass (HCB) Institute for the Arts, a non profit organization, which is supported by Juarez, whose mission is to restore strong family values in all cultures and communities through teaching students how to read music, sing, and play musical instruments. 

Born in Many, La. on Aug. 16, 1914, Juarez was the ninth child of 11 siblings to Henry and Cassie Porter Woods. Juarez is the last living sibling of her family. Young Annie was nurtured in West Tulsa, Oklahoma before moving to California to attend elementary school in Chowchilla, CA and high school in Merced, CA. She moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles Community College.

Juarez held jobs as a caregiver, a domestic and a food service provider before embarking on a 38 year career with Rockwell-Boeing Aircraft Corporation as an equipment procurement specialist. Along the way, she met her life soul mate, Cruz Juarez, and married after a three month engagement. They remained together for 45 years until Cruz’s death in 1983.

Although childless, Juarez is surrogate mother to her nieces, nephews, grand and great-nieces and nephews, other relatives, neighbors, and children of her friends. Sunday’s celebration featured The Bass Family and Friends Choir who performed Juarez’s favorite hymns.

“She is so very special to our family. Aunt Annie has set the standard high and we continue to jump,” her niece Giselle Washington said. “Aunt Annie, whom we affectionately call ‘Weeannie’ or ‘Glamor girl,’ is a force to be reckoned with! Her laughter is contagious, her smile is warm and genuine, and her sense of humor is spicy!  She has lived a life reflecting our rich family heritage of resilience and strength and she continues to amaze us, even at her incredible age.”

As for the key to her many years of living, Juarez credits the Lord and attributes her longevity to “God’s promise.” A self-described prayer warrior, she advises, “Honor Him always and He will sustain you in peace, abundance and grace.”

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