The Poke Sallet Follies is a fundraising event hosted by the Foundation for Aging board each spring. This three-night dinner event provides entertainment and comedy while showcasing many local politicians and dignitaries.
Senior centers in Athens and Limestone County provide critical services such as Meals on Wheels and medical insurance counseling to the elderly. The Council on Aging Foundation Board was established by Limestone County citizens to raise money to help support these centers and their services.
Twenty-one years ago Athens residents Tom and Harriette Rost were active members of the Foundation for Aging and saw many unmet needs of the community’s seniors, such as funding for Meals on Wheels.
Prior to the follies, the Council on Aging raised additional funds for services through yard sales and chicken stews. Those events raised at most $1,000 to $2,000. The Rosts approached former COA Director Helen Carter about putting the efforts of her staff and volunteers into a big fundraiser.
The Rosts, Carter, Martha Jo Leonard and the late Mary Thompson devised the follies. Harriette Rost came up with the name because the wild antics in various skits reminded her of the poke weed that, “comes up in the spring and grows wild.”
The first show in 1992 raised about $5,000. Today, the event raises between $18,000 and $20,000 annually. Carter, who performs in the production, said that since its inception, the Poke Sallet Follies have raised $282,000.
That money has gone to provide food for all Meals on Wheels clients, a freezer so that COA can provide frozen dinners to citizens who live in more rural areas that are not serviced by regular Meals on Wheels, outfitting of a commercial grade kitchen, building of a large front handicap-accessible front porch, a new auditorium floor, stage, curtains, sound system and various other repairs and renovations to the Athens Senior Center.