The United States has a population of around 327.2 million people, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, it's just a tiny portion of that population — roughly 72,000 people — who have reached the age of 100 or beyond.
This week, Martha Binder, a resident of The Pointe in Morris for the past 18 months, joined the club. Martha, born on Nov. 6, 1919, became an official centenarian on Wednesday.
Born and raised in Missouri, she grew up learning the value of hard work.
"In 1929, there was no money anywhere. I got so little when I worked after school, but you had experience that way," she said.
Martha graduated high school in 1937 and earned money working at retail outlets. In 1944 she married, then gave birth to four children; Harvey in 1947, Nancy in 1950, and twins Jerry and Janet in 1952. In 1953, baby Janet unfortunately passed away.
The family eventually moved to Moline in the Quad Cities, and after Martha and her husband divorced after 25 years of marriage, she went to work for Jupiter, a discount outlet.
She retired in 1962, and later decided to move closer to her daughter Nancy, who lives in Minooka. Martha lived in Saratoga Tower in Morris for 26 years before moving to The Pointe.
"I love it here," she said. "I'm happy in here, and I know I'm never alone."
Martha describes herself as easy to get along with. She said the biggest changes she's seen in her 100 years are technology, microwave ovens, cars, and plastics. And of course, sliced bread.
Scattered throughout her apartment at The Pointe are photos of family, friends, and a cross stitch that includes the names of all 30 of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"It's a simple life I never had riches, but I was rich in love. I'm still rich in love," Martha said. "I don't feel 100. I get around and I'm friendly, I make friends easy, so that's good."
Martha said she's ready to go to heaven when the time comes, but she has two secrets to a long life.
"I love the Lord, my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, and I thank them every day," she said. "Prayer changes things. I like to talk about the Lord, I really do."
Martha's second secret — never underestimate the power of a good nap.
"I rest," she said. "I do maybe a few dishes, I come in here and lay down. Maybe I'll sleep an hour. Those are my two secrets."