Mary E. Matthews lives in a house full of angels. That’s 1,800 angels to be exact, made of a variety of materials from porcelain to wood.

The 75-year-old Matthews, who lives near White Rock Lake, is founder of the Angel Collectors Club of America, which recently celebrated its 20th birthday. The club has more than 2,000 members throughout the country, Matthews says, as well as an active local Lone Star State Chapter that meets the last Friday of each month.

The club began when Matthews wrote the Dallas Morning News and the now defunct Dallas Times Herald to tell them about her angel collection. A Waco woman read the articles about Matthews and sent word to her friend, Theo Marie Sponsler, an angel collector in Colorado.

Sponsler and Matthews became pen pals and went in search of others who shared their interest. They wrote letters to newspapers across the United States looking for angel collectors, and clubs soon began forming, Matthews says.

“It’s really a lovely hobby,” Matthews says. “People will say: ‘I saw an angel today and thought of you.’”

Matthews received her first angel nearly 30 years ago when her family was living in France. Her teenage daughter bought the angel in a dime store and gave it to Matthews as a gift.

“It was a tiny cotton and Styrofoam hideous thing,” Matthews says. “We decided there must be prettier angels than that.”

The mother and daughter began looking for angels, and Matthews’ collection grew. In 1970, the family moved to Dallas, where Matthews ran a handmade greeting card company for a number of years.

Last year, Matthews retired as director of the Lone Star State Chapter, handing over responsibilities to friend Alice Ann Parsons, but Matthews is still active as secretary. Both women have exhibited their angel collections at Dallas branch libraries.

Chapter meetings last from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and begin with a brief business discussion followed by show-and-tell or craft-making session. Sometimes, a special program, such as a book review or lunch outing, is scheduled. The meeting place rotates among members’ homes.

The group’s Christmas party is Dec. 27, and a Lutheran minister will lecture about St. Michael and his cherubs Jan. 31. A national convention is scheduled for September 1997 in Kansas City, Mo.

Dues are $15 nationally and $7 locally per year. The money pays for club rosters and newsletters. The club also holds fund-raisers and donates to the Make a Wish Foundation.

For information, call Matthews at 214-324-1053 or Parsons at 214-339-5902.

NEWS & NOTES

HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

Rec Center Goes Shopping: The Ridgewood/Belcher Recreation Center, 6818 Fisher, hosts a holiday shopping spree Dec. 4 for seniors. Participants will meet at the center at 9 a.m. for a day-long excursion to outlet malls in Gainesville. Transportation is free. Participants will be on their own for lunch. Registration is required. Call 670-7115.

Christmas Cards Inspire AARP: The American Association of Retired Persons, Ridgewood Park Chapter No. 3787, will meet for an “Inspirational Christmas Music” program at 10 a.m. Dec. 19 at Ridgewood Park United Methodist Church, 6645 E. Lovers. A covered dish lunch will be served. The group also is accepting donations for the Wilkinson Center, a nonprofit organization that benefits disadvantaged families. Call Dorthea Sooby at 827-6678 for information.

Senior Center Plans Holiday Gatherings: The White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Oldgate at Diceman, hosts a holiday craft and gift sale from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 6. At 11 a.m. that day, seniors also can have their picture taken with the center’s Christmas tree for use with holiday greeting cards. Cost is $1 for two pictures. The center’s Christmas party is Dec. 13 at 11.m. with entertainment and refreshments, and Dec. 20 at noon is the center’s Christmas dinner. Cost is a suggested contribution of 60 cents or more. The center also is planning a trip to the Arboretum to view holiday decorations. Transportation and free tickets will be provided. A date is being decided. Call 328-4863.

HOUSING & ASSISTED LIVING

Two Residents Receive Free Roofs: Two neighborhood seniors benefited from the first “Shingle Solutions,” a Thanksgiving project that replaced roofs at no charge last month on 22 homes belonging to low-income, elderly residents. Several Dallas area roofing companies donated their labor and equipment. The Griffith Roofing Co. replaced the roof of Ethel Mae Loggins, 79, a widow who worked for 35 years as a movie theater manager before retiring in 1990. Texas Best Roofing replaced the roof of Velia Melendez, 75, who recently had knee surgery and is recuperating. She worked for Safeway for 25 years until the store closed in 1992. The project was sponsored by the Center for Housing Resources, the City of Dallas, and Guaranty Federal Bank, which provided a $25,000 grant for materials.

Belmont Towers Renamed and Renovated: A year-long renovation project is underway at Vickery Towers (formerly Belmont Towers), 5619 Belmont at Greenville. The Towers, owned and managed by Seattle-based Emeritus Corp., is a retirement and assisted living community. Once the project is completed, 302 private apartments will be available to seniors. Construction is scheduled to be completed in August, but half the apartments are projected to be finished in March. Apartment renovations will include new carpet and paint, temperature-controlled walkways, and new microwaves and refrigerators.

AARP Discusses Nursing Home Reform: The American Association of Retired Persons will present a program about nursing home reform Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. at the White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Diceman, located at the rear of Lakeview Christian Church. Call 328-4863.

ACCOLADES

Strauss Honored for Lifetime Achievements: The Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas, a United Way Affiliate at 2905 Swiss Avenue, holds its 1996 Spirit of Generations Awards Luncheon Dec. 4 at noon at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel to raise funds for its organization. The luncheon will honor Robert S. Strauss, and attorney, businessman and national political figure who served under former presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush as a trade negotiator and ambassador to Russia, the Middle East and Japan. The Spirit of Generations Award is presented annually. Past recipients include Cecil H. Green, Beatrice Haggerty, J. Erik Jonsson and John M. Stemmons Sr. Individual tickets cost $60-$250. Call 823-5700.