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Illinois

Volunteers Play Important AARP Roles

Giving back to the community has its own rewards

AARP Volunteer Mia Lopez of Chicago says it is important for Latino volunteers to help older Latinos.

Mia Lopez

Mia Lopez, 40, also believes she's filling a need by being an AARP volunteer. Although too young to be a member, the Chicago resident volunteered to serve as a bus captain on a trip with a group of older Latinos to the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

"It's helpful to have Latino volunteers with people who are Latino," Lopez said. "I think from a diversity and inclusion perspective it's important for membership and recruitment."

Lopez also served as an AARP Illinois legislative volunteer and a judge for the With Our Youth! Awards, sponsored by NRTA: AARP's Educator Community, which recognizes outstanding service to youth.

"You can do pretty much what your interests are and what you want to do, and they're open to hearing that," she said. "AARP overall is a very welcoming organization."

Frank Price, who lives just down the street from the state Capitol in Springfield, finds lobbying on behalf of seniors for AARP Illinois to be a rewarding endeavor.

Frank Price

Frank Price, 70, became an AARP Illinois advocacy volunteer soon after retiring as an operational manager with the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2002.

Last year, Price, who lives less than four miles from the Capitol, helped explain to legislators the consequences of a bill opposed by AARP to give guaranteed annual electric rate increases to utility companies. Although the bill was vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn (D), the legislature ultimately overrode Quinn's veto and the bill became law in October.

While his advocacy efforts on behalf of AARP Illinois aren't always successful, Price said participating — win or lose — is what matters.

"I find it to be one of the most fulfilling tasks I do or have done," he said. "It's an opportunity to help seniors, and the neat thing about helping seniors is you often reach other parts of the community that aren't seniors, and they get the help if we win."

If you're interested in finding out more about volunteering with AARP Illinois, call 1-866-448-3613 toll-free or email aarpil@aarp.org.

Also of interest: Become a driver safety volunteer.

Kelly Soderlund is a freelance writer living in Roselle, Ill.

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