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Driven Volunteer Couple Earn Top Honors

Leon Morrow admits he failed miserably at retirement and his wife, Rita agrees.

Never before in its ten year has history has the AARP Kentucky State Office given the prestigious AARP Andrus Award for Community Service to a volunteer couple.

See Also: Award named after AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus

Rita and Leon Morrow make a fabulous first for the state office.

Rita and Leon are an effective dynamic volunteer team. Both build on each other’s strengths and have given their time freely to their faith community and AARP in Kentucky. Their work and outreach with 50+ career planning and job searching has helped hundreds of members’ make age and experience an asset. Both have delivered hands-on training to job seekers to use online searches to find a job or re-careering educational opportunities.

Leon continues teaching safe driving classes while serving as the state coordinator for AARP’s Driver Safety Program. And he is a volunteer with the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program preparing taxes. He’s delivered numerous hours serving on the state office Executive Council and supporting the Association’s priority advocacy issues at the state and federal level.

Leon says after boredom with the golf greens, he says it was time to “put some skin in the game” of serving others. "I almost feel a little bit awkward accepting an award like this for volunteering because I go back to the Emerson statement: 'No one can sincerely help another without also helping yourself.' That's what this is all about."

For Rita Morrow, volunteering is its own reward. "Just helping people in that 50-and-over age bracket do the job search, there's a real need for that in this economy."

AARP Kentucky state president Jim Kimbrough says the couple embodies the founder's motto, "to serve and not to be served." They exemplify what ordinary people can do, he adds.

"So many of those activities are actually carried out by people volunteering on their own, not getting reimbursed in any way for what they do. It is what makes society go."

The Morrows worked in corporate America for more than 30 years. Leon admits he wishes he had learned the benefits of volunteering back then - a message many companies are sending now.

"'Be a contributor, not a taker,' and I'm thinking I missed that message at that age. I don't know where; I'm sure somebody said it, but I didn't get it. But I got it now. It's never too late. I got it now."

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