Mary Louise Williams of Dallas is one of the most compassionate people you'll ever meet. When she isn't busy volunteering for AARP, she spends her time calling friends to let them know they are never far from her thoughts.
"I love chatting with people. My favorite thing to do is just to call someone up to say 'hello,' see how they are doing and let them know that I love them," she says.
Mary stays busy at AARP by helping with a diverse set of Association activities, from outreach events to the local leadership team. She is also a phone coordinator for the Driver Safety program. She first got involved with AARP 12 years ago because of a friend's recommendation.
"She wanted me to volunteer with her. There was a position open for a women's issues specialist, so I decided to interview. Soon after that I got the position and have been in love with this work ever since!" Mary says.
Even though Mary enjoys all aspects of what she does at AARP, there is one achievement that she is particularly proud of beyond all else: being involved with support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren.
"Because I constantly work with these families, I have practically adopted their grandkids as my own! As I help these folks navigate the systems, it is so rewarding to see them finally getting the services and recognition they are entitled to. I know my work makes an impact and that's what I love most about it," she says.
Mary, who has a master's degree in elementary school supervision from the University of North Texas, is also an avid reader. She's considered joining the book club at her church, but says she has many other books she wants to finish first.
"It is not unusual for me to be reading three or four books at once!" laughs Mary.
Mary's church also plays an important role in her life. She teaches a Sunday school class and coordinates the widow's ministry.
Even though Mary lost her husband 14 years ago, she has another important man in her life these days.
"My son is everything to me; he is such a caring and compassionate man. And he takes good care of his mother," says Mary with a smile.
Mary emphasizes the importance of compassion and volunteerism in her life and encourages others to give of themselves and their own time.
"I think that each one of us needs to devote at least several hours a week to other people, even if it's nothing more than calling a sick friend. You have got to get out there to help someone else."