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Volunteer out to make senior discounts a way of life


Bennie Ingram, an AARP volunteer, wants to get discounts for senior citizens in Orange Mound.  “Every little bit helps because the economy is down,” said Ingram. by Julia Griggs
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Bennie Ingram is 78, but he has a mission that keeps him pounding the pavements day after day.

Ingram, an AARP volunteer, wants to get discounts for senior citizens in Orange Mound.  “Every little bit helps because the economy is down,” said Ingram.

 Bennie Ingram, an AARP volunteer, enjoys a sandwich at Subway, where he helped secure a 10 percent discount for seniors. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

Last year, Ingram set out to get the Subway store at 2669 Lamar Ave. to participate by giving 10 percent discounts to seniors over the age of 62.  He was successful. In his pursuit he discovered that restaurants such as Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonalds already offer senior citizen discounts.

His mission now is to get all the restaurants to offer assistance to older residents. He thinks it is good for the community, and good for business. “I believe that seniors deserve a 10 percent discount and this will bring more elderly customers into the businesses,” said Ingram.

Raymond King, who made the discounts part of his operation of the Subway on Lamar, agrees withthe win-win assessment.  

“We believe this program is a wonderful benefit to our elderly community and are happy to be able to participate,” said King.

Eric Douglas, who owns the subway, said, “Senior citizens are important members of society and we appreciate their support over the years.”

Across the nation, national retailers and restaurateurs are offering discounts to seniors, with the qualifying age varying widely. Denny’s offers patrons 55 and older a chance to order off their senior’s menu. Greyhound passengers age 62 and older may request a 5 percent discount on unrestricted passenger fares. Ross stores offer 10 percent senior discounts on Tuesday at participating locations and Kohl’s offers a 15 percent discount on Wednesday. Special discounts are also available with the AARP membership card.

In 1989, following his retirement from the VA Hospital, Ingram began volunteering as a Red Cross health technician. Now as an AARP volunteer he has found a purpose and a way to give back.

“My future plans and what’s next is to get other businesses to participate in giving senior citizens a discount. Such as dental office, beauty and barber shops, and clothing stores,” said Ingram.

Pauline Story, president of AARP Southeast Local chapter, said senior citizens deserve a good quality of life, good healthcare, financial support and good living conditions. The group is delighted by Ingram’s mission, Story said, noting that AARP – founded in 1958 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people over 50 – helps retirees get health insurance and older Americans to “live their best lives.”

“Members can visit Walgreens and use their card on medication and items that they use daily. To join AARP is $16 per year and to join a local chapter is $5 more per year,” said Story.

Meanwhile, Ingram has advice for those interested in getting the senior discount; Never assume it will be automatically given to you.

“Often restaurant chain employees are trained not to offer the discount, so we should ask for the discount,” said Ingram.

In addition, some store clerks are afraid to mention the discount for fear of offending older customers who are not yet 62. Guessing someone’s age often is risky business.

If you are out one day and you cross paths with a man who is working to get senior citizens a break, go up and say hello.

“Life has taught me give and take the sunshine and rain, the bitter with the sweet,” said Ingram.

“And I would like to be remembered by others for helping and loving my neighbor.”

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