Spanning across the state from Scottsbluff to North Platte to Omaha, Nebraska’s AARP chapters and community action teams offer members opportunities for friendship, education, advocacy and volunteer service.
Every month the AARP Mid-City Omaha chapter hosts speakers and authors on diverse topics ranging from legislation to travel. Enterprising chapter members collect canned goods and toiletries for the Open Door Mission, visit residents in nursing homes and sponsor an information booth at the annual Black Family Health and Wellness Fair. They often team up with local non-profits on projects to help kids.
“Everyone has a different reason for joining,” said Mary Hill, president of the thriving Mid-City Omaha chapter with 50 active members. “I’m not the kind of person to sit around. I’m able to give my time to something that I believe in. I believe in helping people in my community to the best of my ability.”
A passion for advocacy is what led Pauline Francisco, chair of the AARP Scottsbluff/Gering Community Action Team, to join the recently-organized group of local AARP volunteers a decade ago.
“Our team members are deeply involved in advocating for seniors and performing community service. Right now, we’re seeking volunteers who can help explain the new health care law,” she said. “Health care education is a strong focus for us here.”
Team volunteers also donate their time to improve home safety for seniors, teach AARP Driver Safety classes, prepare tax returns through AARP Tax-Aide and fight fraud and identity theft. In June, the community action team co-sponsored a free document shredding event for the fourth year, drawing a record 175 cars from as far away as Bridgeport and Bayard.
AARP’s Lincoln County Chapter in North Platte is committed to building membership to keep the chapter strong. “People have a lot of knowledge and skills to give back to the community. We welcome new members into our chapter where they can put their experience to good use,” said chapter president Twila Dawson, who recently moved back to her hometown of North Platte from Phoenix, Arizona.
Chapter members volunteer with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Lincoln County Historical Museum, donate to area charities, host an annual picnic in July and bring in speakers for their monthly programs, Dawson said. They’re also sharing information with the public about what’s in the new health care law.
Carl Tesch, president of the Autumn Wood Chapter in Lincoln, hopes to reverse a decline in chapter membership by “trying to experiment with making it fun.” In addition to a long-standing focus on advocacy and a 28-year legacy of community service, he said the chapter will offer bingo and may host joke sessions, where members share new jokes at chapter gatherings.
AARP members (age 50 and older) and their spouses are eligible for chapter membership. National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) members may join AARP Chapters or NRTA units. AARP Chapters were organized in 1960, and today there are more than 2,400 AARP Chapters across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A minimal yearly fee is charged to help run the business of the chapter. Some chapters have fundraising activities to help support local senior projects, provide scholarships for students, or donate money to worthy causes.
AARP chapters offer another way to make AARP the next chapter in your life. Find an AARP chapter near you by calling Robin at 1-866-389-5651, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or locate a chapter online.
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