Many AARP members around the state are asking how they can become more involved in their communities. Here are just a few ways and examples.
Gwendolyn Curran of Eugene has been volunteering since 1998 and became involved when she went to an AARP presentation on Social Security. “I was really impressed with the talk. When they asked for volunteers, I said ‘I’m Here!’”
Like many of her peers, Curran says that she enjoys activities that make her feel good and that are fun. And Curran admits that she has had fun. During National Volunteer Week this past April, Curran organized a volunteer service project at a local, organic farm in collaboration with Food from Lane County, a nonprofit food bank.
Curran says she thought of the idea when she heard how many seniors were interested in gardening. Despite fears of bad weather, the day turned out beautifully. “We all worked very hard, but had such a great time. In a single day, the group put farm workers almost three weeks ahead of schedule.”
Projects and events are only one piece of AARP’s model for service. Jack O’Malley, a resident of Bend and a former business owner and journalism major, has found his niche.
“I’m more of an activist,” O’Malley said. “I write letters to editors to help raise awareness or combat misinformation out there, and write to our state and U.S. representatives.”
Most recently O’Malley has been helping advocate for individuals who will soon lose their unemployment benefits and to stop cuts to Oregon’s innovative and cost-effective model of home and community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities.
O’Malley says he finds the work satisfying because he helps give the underrepresented a voice.
“It’s not just about the people with money and huge corporations,” O’Malley said. “And it’s an opportunity to get involved instead of wondering ‘What can I do?’”
Another volunteer, Al Youse of Salem, donates his time sharing information on key issues, including the how the new health law affects and benefits Oregonians so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Youse believes that his town is a great place to get involved.
“Being in the state capital, it’s the place where a lot of things happen,” Youse said.
AARP appealed to Youse when he realized that the organization was dealing with issues that would impact not only himself and his fellow boomers and seniors, but all Oregonians and Americans as they aged.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to meet a whole lot of different people coming together to work on issues that really matter,” Youse said.
AARP volunteers like Curran, O’Malley and Youse encourage others to join Create the Good.
“There are so many different things that you can do on your time – from five minutes, five hours, five days or more – that meet your interests and that truly can make a difference. It’s good for you, your health and your community. Why not volunteer?,” concluded Curran.
For more information on ways to get involved, visit Create the Good or contact the AARP Oregon State Office at 866-554-5360, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the AARP Oregon Facebook page.
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