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Joan Bolden Honored as Jefferson Countian of Year

Mar 9, 2017

ETHRA Policy Council Member, Joan Bolden, Honored as Jefferson Countian of Year

Jefferson Countian of the Year Joan Bolden receives congratulations from Bob Jarnagin (left) and Rosemary Wiggington, Regional President of First Tennessee Bank, sponsor of the award.

A longtime advocate for the community’s elderly and less fortunate was honored Friday night as Jefferson Countian of the Year for 2016.

Joan Bolden, who currently serves as Jefferson County’s Director of the Office on Aging, was described by presenter Bob Jarnagin as “a deeply caring individual who has always been willing to forego her own needs while attending to others.”

Bolden’s service to the people of Jefferson County spans several decades, and includes the creation of innovative programs that have helped hundreds.

Chief among them was “Sharing Christmas,” the predecessor to “Christmas in Jefferson County.” As director of the Jefferson County Neighborhood Center, Bolden witnessed first-hand the countless needs of struggling families. Hoping to provide something special for them at Christmas, she started a program to provide gifts and food – with the help and support of generous volunteers who embraced the idea. When word of her plan was published, she received calls from 57 volunteers in the first week of preparations. 

“When I started the program, I knew I would not be able to do it for very many years because of [my] arthritis,” she said at Friday’s banquet. 

In 2001, the Chamber of Commerce took over the effort, renamed it, and continued with the same tradition. Hundreds of recipients now benefit from the program every holiday season. 

“They’ve carried it on like I hoped it would be carried on,” Bolden added, thanking them for their “excellent job.”

After several years directing the work of the Neighborhood Center, Bolden became a tireless advocate for the elderly as Director of the Office on Aging. She oversees the five Senior Citizen Centers in the county, as well as promoting programs for the welfare of the county’s oldest citizens.

She has launched such events as a Health Fair for Senior Citizens, which pulls together helpful resources and services for the benefit of her constituents. She has also coordinated a fresh food drive for senior citizens through her membership on the Jefferson County Health Council, and works to protect older citizens from fraud and abuse.

She also serves as a FEMA Funds Board member, assisting in emergency situations as they arise.

“If there were more hours in a day, this benevolent individual would fill each one with service and caring for others,” said Jarnagin, who presented the award Friday, with help from Rosemary Wiggington, Regional President of First Tennessee Bank.

Besides a plaque, Bolden will receive $1,000 from First Tennessee Bank, which has sponsored the award since its inception.

“I am really honored to receive this,” Bolden said, after receiving the award. True to her nature, she also encouraged those in attendance to get involved in their community. 

“Please participate in anything you can,” she urged. “I think each one of us was sent to this earth to make a difference – and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make a difference, if you will just see the need.”