Founding Mothers, Founding Friends

As soon as she entered the room, the whole place lit up. The 96-year-old founder of Friendship Trays was our honoree for the launch of our new giving society, The Circle of Friendship, on Wednesday, August 23, 2017. She is also the inspiration.

Surrounded by friends and family (including a few of her adoring great-grandchildren) Ann Elliot generates warmth and kindness. And frankly speaking it was infectious. One can imagine Ann 40 years ago managing a team of volunteers and staff in the original location at Caldwell Presbyterian Church with integrity, intelligence and a lot of humor.

Ann with two of her great-grandchildren.

Ann circa 1980s at Myers Park Baptist Church.

The Circle of Friendship is Friendship Trays’ first giving society. Donors who give to the Circle this year will become our Founding Friends. The Circle of Friendship honors our founder Ann and the legacy of those who paved the way for us.

One of those legacy-paving pioneers is Tia Athens. She was instrumental in transforming the organization into what it is today. Serving as executive director from 1988 to 1999 Tia brought innovations such as converting from purchased meals to preparing the meals in-house to transitioning the entire operation to a new facility on Distribution Street.

Ann with Tia Athens, executive director from 1989-99.

Ann (far right) with Tia Athens circa 1980s.

Another is Lucy Bush Carter, our current executive director. Under Lucy’s guidance the operation made the switch to sealed, chilled meals ensuring freshness and improving taste. She currently manages a loyal and talented staff of which many have tenures that number in the double digits.

We hope to continue to build on the strong foundation created by Ann, Tia, Lucy and so many others. As we move into our fifth decade of service and continue to meet the challenges of a growing city and an aging population, we hope the Circle of Friendship will help us build an even brighter future.

Lucy shares a collection of photos of Ann and her many friends over the years.

Friendship Trays created a poster for Ann to commemorate the event.