AARP gets its strength from its 37 million members but helping move its initiatives forward is a team of volunteers who work in their own communities to make the lives of their neighbors better. AARP New Mexico has a number of ways people can get involved and volunteer their time to others.
See Also: AARP Volunteering
“At AARP, volunteers are at the heart of everything we achieve,” said Gene Varela, AARP New Mexico State Associate Director for Community Outreach. “Our office has over 120 active volunteers throughout the state. Anyone who is interested in finding ways to help out in their community should give us a call as we might have the perfect fit for that individual. ”
Those volunteers help with everything from lobbying the state Legislature, testifying on bills and their potential impact on New Mexico citizens; conducting presentations out in the community on issues such as Social Security and identity theft; and participating in community events in order to share information and resources.
For example, the AARP Las Cruces Chapter recently ramped up its efforts to recruit new members with a special meeting April 14.
“We want to point out some of the programs we’re working on so people are aware of how active AARP is in the Las Cruces area and what we do locally, as well as let people know how they can get involved,” said Capt. Walt Baker, AARP Las Cruces Chapter president.
AARP chapter members, who are local volunteers, often attend community functions sharing information at events but also find other ways to work in the community.
The Las Cruces Chapter often can be found at events like the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference but give their time to other community groups volunteering at a local nursing home and helping the local Alzheimer’s group. They also worked in conjunction with the city of Las Cruces in conducting a pedestrian survey and were able to share their findings with city leaders who vowed to take action to make city streets safer for people on foot.
“A lot of people think AARP is about selling insurance –it’s not,” said State President Louis Sarabia of Las Cruces. “We look at issues that impact people and then we advocate on these issues. The information AARP gives out is top notch. It is right on the money. It’s trustworthy. We are not political. We concentrate on the issues not the politicians.” said State President Louis Sarabia of Las Cruces.
At the moment AARP is conducting listening sessions across the country to gather people’s opinions and concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare. These sessions are part of AARP’s You’ve Earned a Say initiative and in New Mexico, for the most part, are being conducted by AARP volunteers.
AARP New Mexico also has an AARP Information Center in Albuquerque which is staffed solely by volunteers and is always looking for help. Center volunteers not only answer questions about AARP services and issues but also can put people in touch with other government and community services that might be available in the area.
Two other AARP programs that are run by volunteers are the AARP Foundation Tax Aide and the AARP Driver Safety.
Tax aide volunteers help people file their simple tax returns at a number of local sites throughout the tax season. Volunteers go through training each year to stay abreast of new tax laws and some even work year-round to help people who might be having tax issues.
Drivers Safety is another community orientated program. Volunteers throughout New Mexico teach a four-hour course that refreshes the rules of the road for people age 55 and older. Volunteers are given training on the course materials.
Anyone interested in volunteering to be a Drivers Safety instructor can call: 1-88227-7669 or visit www.aarp.org/drive. To volunteer for the AARP Tax Aide program can call 1-888-687-2277 or visit www.aarp.org/taxaide.
For more information on volunteering with AARP New Mexico contact Gene Varela at 505-946-3604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on taking the Drivers Safety Course visit aarp.org/findacourse. Course times, dates and locations will be listed along with a phone number to call to register. Or call toll-free to 888-AARP-NOW (888-227-7669). To register for the online course, visit aarpdriversafety.org.
The classroom course costs only $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. The cost for the online course is $15.95 for AARP members and $19.95 for non-members.