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Volunteerism Is Key In Jackson County

AARP Michigan's community presence program provides services and brings residents together

Lee Hladki, 65, volunteers as a legislative advocate, relaying the concerns of older Jackson-area residents to state lawmakers.

He said he was impressed with the 75-person turnout at a You've Earned a Say meeting and attributes the uptick to greater AARP momentum in Jackson County over the past year.

"It was a great mix of people with very thoughtful and practical ideas. It's so important that everyone have the chance to be part of conversations about policy," Hladki said.

In addition to seeking volunteers and new members, the community presence program has lined up a number of events for Jackson County and other target communities. While these seminars and workshops are held in a variety of locations throughout Michigan, the community presence areas are selected for a greater number of them.

Technicians at CarFit sessions will help older drivers improve their comfort and safety behind the wheel, while HomeFit workshops advise people about keeping their dwellings safe and accessible.

Promoting Yourself at 50+ helps older workers make their age an asset in the job search. Contests, a food drive and other events are planned.

Working with other groups

In addition, AARP Michigan is joining with other organizations.

For example, the Michigan office has formed a partnership with Jackson cable TV station JTV.

"Everyone in town watches it," Farmer said. "We were on the most popular talk show with the winner of our 'Why I Love My Grandparents' essay contest."

For her part, Crater is gratified at connecting newcomers with the programs and services they need.

"So many people don't know what to do and where to go to get help," she said. "AARP helps educate you on the world as it is now."

For information on events in Jackson County and throughout the state, visit the AARP Michigan website. For information about volunteering, email Andy Farmer at

Melissa Preddy is a writer living in Plymouth, Mich.

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