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AARP Montana Announces 2010 Andrus Award Winner

AARP Montana announced today that Ed Eaton of Helena has been selected to receive the 2010 Andrus Award for Community Service, the Association’s most prestigious volunteer award. This award is a symbol of the power of individuals to make a difference in the lives of others. Eaton was nominated by Del Lonnquist, the 2008 AARP Andrus Award Winner.

The award was formally presented to Eaton at a ceremony in Helena on Oct. 6. In presenting the award, AARP Montana State Director Bob Bartholomew said, “it’s a pleasure to present this award to Mr. Eaton, a man who has given of himself to make an important difference in the lives of others. His spirit of service has left an indelible mark on his community. AARP Montana selected Mr. Eaton for his remarkable record of volunteerism.”

Eaton exemplifies the “making a difference” spirit of community service inspired by Ethyl Percy Andrus. Eaton began his career by serving his country in the U.S. Air Force. His career in public service continued with the State of Montana in the Governor’s Budget Office for 18 years. In his retirement, Eaton continues his long track record of public service by volunteering not only with AARP, but also with several community projects.

Eaton was elected President of the Helena, AARP chapter in 2009 after serving several years on the executive board. He is currently an active member in AARP’s Capital City Task Force.

“His positive attitude infuses each meeting with laughter and good humor,” said Del Lonnquist. “He frequently calls other members and urges them to volunteer with AARP and other community service projects.”

Eaton’s advocacy efforts in the area of energy/utility consumption and cost proved valuable not only during the 2009 session of the Montana State Legislature but for the past several sessions. The cumulative effect of those years of study, attendance at committee hearings and general sessions of the legislature made him a well known member of the task force. He had a positive impact on many of the bills concerning energy and its cost to individuals in Helena and across the state. His knowledge of electric utility issues gained through many years of employment with GE and Boeing gave him great insight into energy/utility issues.

Eaton suffered severe hearing loss while serving with the U.S. Military. Despite this handicap, he attends legislative hearings and meetings, testifies at hearings and leads the local AARP chapter. Overcoming the handicap of a hearing loss in a visible and public manner has shown others that overcoming a handicap is possible and worthwhile. He is truly an inspiration to all with whom he comes in contact.

Eaton has a passion for live music and his support of musicians and bands throughout the Northwest has made him a well known figure in music circles. His support for local musicians and other live performance entertainment is legendary and impacts the societal and cultural aspects of community life. Radio, TV and other technologies have led to a sharp decline in the availability of live music opportunities. This has led to fewer and fewer chances for young people to participate in live performances. He promotes the Helena City Band and their concerts in Memorial Park by inviting friends to join in weekly pot luck suppers prior to the concerts. Jazz, polka, and country bands have all benefitted from his efforts to promote and expand live music statewide. Support of live performance is vital to the future of music in our society.

In 2009 Eaton and others on the AARP Chapter executive board joined the AARP Walking program and using AARP step counters laid out a course that took them from Helena to Seattle and then to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras. This effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle has continued throughout his term as president.

During 2009 and for several years Eaton has worked with the executive board for the local AARP chapter in fund raising projects to provide for the less fortunate members of our community. The local chapter under Eaton’s leadership has collected eye glasses and hearing aids. They also provide financial assistance to Head Start families.

“AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors and the programs they serve,” said Bartholomew. “This award serves as a symbol to members and the public that we can all work together for positive social change.”

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