719 Project rally urges remembering elders

Haley Carmack, 13, center, stands with Kallie Morris, 13, left and Dallas Bailey, 13, before passing out balloons for the balloon release Friday night during the 719 Project rally at Fairpark. (Lauren Wood)

Haley Carmack, 13, center, stands with Kallie Morris, 13, left and Dallas Bailey, 13, before passing out balloons for the balloon release Friday night during the 719 Project rally at Fairpark. (Lauren Wood)

By Riley Manning
Daily Journal

TUPELO – In Psalm 71:9, King David laments, “Do not cast me away when I am old and do not forsake me when my strength has gone.”
Clinical service workers Dee McCarthy and Jeff Flinn heard that call, and over the past three years have developed the 719 Project, an organization dedicated to remember, respect and reconnect with the community’s elders.

“While working as a chaplain in nursing homes, I found that one of the most debilitating things about growing older is becoming isolated,” Flinn said. “In Psalm 71:9, David is concerned that he will be forgotten and tossed aside, and many of our elderly struggle with that same fear.”

In previous years, McCarthy and Flinn would arrange activities in nursing homes on July 19th (7/19), but this year, they took the event public with a rally in Fair Park on Friday, July 19th, at 7:19 p.m.

Along with prayers, praise and testimonies, attendees were given information on opportunities to get involved with the senior community.

“Sometimes people forget they are still part of our community,” McCarthy said. “But we can’t lose respect for them. The lives they have lived are invaluable to us.”

Mayor Jason Shelton addressed the crowd, and said the movement could be another first for Tupelo.

“I’m very proud that Tupelo could host the first event for the 719 Project, and when it becomes a national event, we’ll be proud to say it started in Tupelo,” he said.

Speaker John Carrothers echoed Shelton’s sentiment in his personal testimony about how to spiritually age gracefully.

“Give praise to God for this turnout,” he said. “Maybe in a few years 60,000 people will be here on 7/19 at 7:19. That will be enough to make Elvis jealous.”

riley.manning@journalinc.com