National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to celebrate AARP volunteers and the wonderful work they do. It’s my honor to acknowledge these hardworking men and women, who make such generous use of their time, knowledge and skills to benefit others.
Eli Meir Kaplan
As AARP president and a member of its Board of Directors, I have the privilege of visiting volunteers all over the country. They are as different as they can be: from age 50 to 90-something; retired or still on the job; raising grandchildren or caring for parents — or both; earning advanced degrees or finally putting that college major to good use; bakers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, welders, weightlifters — you name it.
Distinctive as each of them is, they are all distinguished by their dedication and commitment — the hallmarks of every one of AARP’s valiant volunteers.
Our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, understood that people who volunteer their time in unselfish service are people who aspire to make a difference.
Every day, volunteers are in the community, connecting with individuals and families, always with an eye toward empowering them to improve their health security, their financial resilience and their sense of personal fulfillment. Engaging at the community level is extremely important for our association. It helps us understand what people really need. It helps us hear their voices. And it guides us in formulating policies that address people’s real concerns.
Volunteers are the people who make it happen.
All of our volunteers are remarkable, but I’d like to single out one for a special tribute — Marvin Schachter, who recently passed away at age 90, while still operating at full throttle. Marvin brought his wealth of expertise and knowledge to the table as he supported the mission and vision of AARP in California as a very active member of the Executive Council, one of the highest volunteer positions in the state.
Marvin was a spokesman for AARP as well as a lecturer on the senior community at the University of Southern California Andrus Center and for community and business organizations. He organized and participated in senior housing conferences for various Southern California organizations. I happen to know of one recent occasion when he single-handedly put together a senior summit attended not only by the mayor of Los Angeles but also by all the local elected officials and 2,500 seniors.
He was involved in groundbreaking causes such as ending segregation in the armed forces, protesting against wars, supporting disarmament, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and so much more.
Right before his death, Marvin agreed to play a key role in AARP’s livable communities effort. He was also the principal caregiver for his wife, Esther.
An article in Pasadena Weekly (which he cofounded) described him this way:
“Marvin Schachter is the kind of man you want on your team. Eyes twinkling, formidable brain whirring, Schachter is a force for good…a role model for yourself and your children.”
I am lucky to have known Marvin Schachter, and I feel equally privileged to know so many of our other amazing volunteers.
To all of you, I say thank you. Thank you for giving so willingly of your wisdom and your immense talents.