BAGS

Bradenton Beautiful Aging Girlfriends (BAGS) Was Born!

BAGS 2

Glenda Craddock moved from the Atlanta Georgia north metro area to Florida nearly three years ago to help with the care of her parents. In December of 2020, Glenda and her parents purchased and moved into a new home in Palmetto. Although she had friends and family in Pinellas County, she knew that establishing a life and friendships in Manatee County, where she resides, was a long-term necessity.

Glenda joined several wonderful community groups, but they were not fulfilling her search for making meaningful connections or opportunities to join in organized activities and volunteerism with women in their golden years. Glenda started her own group that would plan and organize group activities for women in fun and meaningful ways and by July 2021 Bradenton Area Girlfriends (BAGS) was born! Glenda leveraged Facebook to bring together women ages 50 and up for fun and friendships.

Glenda partnered with Celeste Hankinson who acts as the group’s Chief Operating Officer and built a core team, which includes a Director of Community Outreach, an Administrative Assistant, eight Event Organizers, and several Event Hosts. Event Organizers research, plan, organize and host fun social group events, activities, and meet & greets.

Little did she know, the membership would explode to over 2,400 members in less than five months. Glenda’s outlook on age positivity, self-acceptance, and interest in the group by women outside of the Bradenton area, prompted the renaming of the organization to Beautifully Aging Girlfriends (BAGS) of Bradenton, allowing for future “chapters” in other communities.

Tammy Gachter is the group’s Director of Community Outreach. She is leading the philanthropic focus, sponsorships, and volunteer opportunities for members of BAGS. Since the inclusion of the philanthropic initiatives, Tammy has overseen participation with many community organizations including The Blessing Bags Project, Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee County, Habitat for Humanity and Friends of Manatee County Animal Shelter.

Glenda worked as a Nursing Home Inspector for six years in Georgia and currently works as a Respiratory Therapist for BayCare’s Extended Care program where she visits several local nursing homes. Glenda has always had a passion for helping the residents in long term care and saw firsthand the devastating effects of COVID for both residents and staff. Her dream of making a difference for the elderly in long term care came to fruition though the BAGS platform and its wonderful members. In addition to supporting other community projects and volunteer opportunities, BAGS own philanthropic focus will be on enhancing the Activities Departments in long term care facilities, in an effort to enrich the lives of the residents that live there.

BAGS very first and current philanthropy project is called “A Joyful Christmas 2021” at Greenbriar Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Working closely with Deborah Cornish, the Activity Director for Greenbriar, helped to identify ways to enrich the lives of the residents. Most recently, Charlene Johnson, BAGS Administrative Assistant, expended significant time and resources along with other BAGS volunteers and donors, resulting in a fabulous “Holiday Boutique” free shopping experience for the Greenbriar residents. Residents enjoyed shopping for clothing, holiday attire, purses, shoes, socks, personal items, and jewelry! BAGS members have adopted every single resident though the BAGS “Adopt a Resident for Christmas” program. Christmas wish lists by the residents are being purchased by a BAGS member, placed in beautiful Christmas bags, and delivered to the nursing home in time for Christmas! The Activities department is receiving an abundance of items from the “BAGS Joyful Christmas” amazon registry to enhance the department throughout the year. They have received items such as a new coffee pot, DVD/CD player for their TV, a portable DVD player to play movies in a resident’s room, numerous echo dots to play music in resident rooms, stuffed animals, blankets, adult coloring books, gel pens, crayons, activity books and even an animated dog for pet therapy. BAGS members will be singing Christmas carols for the residents at Greenbriar on December 19th.

Bags

Using resources and contacts by BAGS member and business owner, Ashley Louda of Gypsea Soul Boutique in Bradenton, has resulted in the owners of Salt and Pepper Café, Matthew Smith, and Lisa Prather, helping to provide over 100 Christmas Day meals at cost for the staff and residents of Greenbriar. An un-named BAGS member covered the cost of the entire Christmas dinner. Bakery owner, Eli Pavelski, of Edible Elegance by Eli on Cortez Road has offered to donate all the desserts for the meal and owner Mick Samuelson of Flower Fanatic will be brightening the dining area of the facility with his donation of fresh flowers.

As the personal philanthropic mission of the BAGS organization is to continue to enrich the lives of the elderly in long-term care facilities, the support of business owners and other community members has been key in achieving that goal. “We not only have a very giving membership but have the wonderful fortune of living in the very generous community of Bradenton” says BAGS Director of Community Outreach, Tammy Gachter. “

As BAGS has outgrown its ability to manage such a vast membership on Facebook, the group will be transitioning to a website and web-based membership in mid to late January of 2022. Look for exciting information, stories from members and the many event offerings on the new website.

Photos from BAGS

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BAGS, Bradenton, Bradenton Area Girlfriends, community, Florida, Friends of Manatee County Animal Shelter, Meals on Wheels Plus, Outreach, sponsorships, The Blessing Bags Project, volunteer

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