Volunteering is not new in the life of Jean Rinehardt Bridges, retired Staff Manager with BellSouth in Atlanta. AARP South Carolina is pleased to recognize her as this year’s recipient of the Andrus Award for Community Service.
Opportunities surfaced when Bridges went to work at Southern Bellin 1948. In addition to teaching craft classes to girls who worked split hours, she joined the Speakers' Bureau, presenting programs for clubs and organizations. She participated in many charitable activities such as preparing meals for the blind and hosting parties for veterans.
After transferring to Atlanta, she led the Women's Activities Committee, planning programs for self-improvement and entertainment for employees, a bit of a challenge since she relocated knowing no one.
Bridges and her husband joined AARP Buckhead Chapter 103 and became very involved over the years; holding almost every position it offered.
One of her favorite "jobs" was with the Peachtree Road Race and she enjoyed volunteering for the Fabulous Fox Theater, with the Atlanta Symphony and many cultural activities through the years.
After being a full time caregiver for her husband, Bridges moved toColumbiato care for her mother. She almost immediately joined theCapitalSeniorCenter, the Greater Columbia Chapter of AARP and the Shepherd'sCenterofColumbia. Shortly afterwards, she was asked to be president of the local Chapter and began working to increase the membership.
Bridges is a Legislative Volunteer, attending many hearings and meetings on subjects pertaining to older generations. One rewarding experience was participating in the “Divided We Fail” campaign during the time the presidential primaries were taking place.
She is also involved with the Silver Haired Legislature, Area Agency on Aging, Lt. Governor's Advisory Council on Aging, the Carolinas Committee for Medical Excellence, a Senior Mentor for medical students attending the USC School of Medicine, the Foster Grandparents Program and many others.
Her philosophy is to practice the Golden Rule and she appreciates Ethel Percy Andrus's motto, "What we do, we do for all."
Never seeking recognition, she was awarded the Jane Kennedy Excellence in Aging Award and the Consumer Spirit Award for Excellency in Consumer Advocacy. Columbia’s First Baptist Church named her Senior Adult of the Year with the 2008 Cup of Blessing. Bridges was presented the Senior Advocate Award for Outstanding Service and Commitment to seniors.
Bridges tried to fulfill her calling by doing all she can with what she has to better life for anyone she meets. She has two daughters, is a grandmother to nine grandchildren and great-grandmother to five. She will celebrate her eightieth birthday next year.
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