Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location



Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Celebrate Black Life, History, and Culture!



You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation



Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free



Life at 50+ - Discover. Engage. Enjoy.





Life at 50+ - Register for the Digital Experience



Happy African American couple







AARP Auto Buying Program



AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy






Military and Veterans Discount




New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

Dating After 50 For Dummies

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules


Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles



AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?


Volunteerism Is Key In Jackson County

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

Gurtie Crater age 70 from Jackson, MI has been  being active in the Jackson, Michigan community promoting the efforts of the AARP by making personal connections.

Gurtie Crater, 70, has been being active in the Jackson, Michigan community promoting the efforts of the AARP by making personal connections. — Photo by Fabrizio Costantini

When AARP Michigan asked Gurtie Crater to help connect her Jackson County neighbors to the association's many programs and benefits, she quickly agreed.

She saw it as an opportunity to let them know that AARP is more than "a place to get a discount on your insurance." 

See also: Volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. 

One year into AARP Michigan's community presence program, which aims to raise membership, volunteerism and awareness of AARP services, Crater thinks she's made a difference.

By networking at church, community meetings and elsewhere, Crater is building a new audience for programs such as Fraud Fighter College and You've Earned a Say, a series of community conversations about the future of Social Security and Medicare.

"People say, 'AARP does all that?' " said Crater, 70. "And I say, 'Yes. I was surprised myself.' "

Making connections through active individuals is a key part of AARP Michigan's three-year community presence effort, which kicked off in 2011 and targets Jackson County, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

"We have 1.4 million members in Michigan — and a staff of just 13 people," said Lisa D. Cooper, advocacy manager for AARP Michigan.

"There is no way we can reach out to everyone. If we can develop a strong volunteer network across the state, we can engage with more people in more meaningful ways."

At 160,000 residents, Jackson County is the 14th-largest Michigan county. Cooper said the area was selected because of its demographics.

"The city has an urban core, but the surrounding community is rural and agricultural," she said. "Politically the area tends to swing between liberal and conservative. People 65 and older make up 14.5 percent of the Jackson County population, slightly higher than the state's 65-plus population, and Michigan's economic struggles are represented here. "

"Jackson is a really good microcosm of the sort of places where we need to build grassroots efforts and volunteer leadership," she said. She said polls conducted during and after the community presence period will guide the design of future programs and activities.

"Already, a couple of surveys appeared to show that AARP recognition had grown positively," said Andy Farmer, AARP Michigan associate state director for health and supportive services. "We have formed some meaningful engagement in the area."

Next: CarFit and other events planned in Jackson. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Personalization Universe Member Benefits Discounts

Members can save 20% on personalized gifts at Personalization Universe.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

This program is supported by a generous grant from Toyota to AARP Foundation.

*Upon completion, you may be eligible to receive an auto insurance discount. Other restrictions apply.

Consult your agent for details.