The year was 1960, and 100 communities all across the country were competing for the honor of becoming AARP’s very first chapter. In the end, Youngtown, AZ, received the distinction.
Today, fifty years later, AARP Youngtown Chapter One is still thriving and boasting 70 active members who meet monthly at the Youngtown City Hall building in Youngtown.
“It’s hard to believe that it was half a century ago, but it’s a terrific honor to be known as AARP’s very first chapter,” said Arky Muscato, President of AARP Youngtown Chapter One. “Our members are as engaged and active in our community as the original members were when they founded the chapter all those many years ago.”
In 1960, the chapter started with 25 members who paid 25 cents for their yearly dues. AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus also came to Youngtown to present the national organization’s very first chapter charter to then Chapter President Cyrus Owen. At that time, the town of Youngtown had not yet been established. But shortly after the chapter’s founding, the town became incorporated and today still carries the distinction of being the first planned-retirement community in the United States.
By 1961, AARP Chapter One boasted over 450 members and was known as an active force in a variety of community service activities.
Today, Youngtown chapter members are involved in a variety of community service projects including hosting identity theft shred-a-thons that help raise awareness of I.D. theft, collecting donations for a local food bank, organizing community “block watch” campaigns, and helping seniors with their taxes through the AARP Tax-Aide program.
“There’s no doubt that our chapter has a rich history and I think it’s safe to say that Youngtown started it all, as far as the AARP chapter concept was concerned,” said Muscato. “And we want to continue that legacy by remaining active and involved in worthy causes that benefit everyone living in our surrounding communities.”
To mark its 50th anniversary, officials from the state and national offices of AARP recently hosted a luncheon to honor the Youngtown chapter and its members.
“It’s great to celebrate and recognize Youngtown Chapter One for its wonderful history,” said David Mitchell, AARP Arizona State Director. “Our marking their 50th anniversary pays tribute to how AARP chapters play an important role in giving AARP a local presence in communities all across the country.”
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