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AARP Florida Recognizes Duo with Top Award

Orange County residents Dr. Byron and Judy Thames have been selected to receive AARP Florida’s 2011 Andrus Award for Community Service, the Association’s most prestigious volunteer award. The award, named for AARP’s founder, symbolizes each individual’s power to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

See Also: Award Named for AARP Founder

Judy Thames is AARP Florida’s former three-term state president. Dr. Byron Thames served on AARP’s national board of directors, as well as other senior AARP volunteer positions.

Dr. Byron and Judy Thames were honored for their remarkable service and for the impact they have had on their nation, state and community, said Doug Heinlen, Florida state president of AARP.

As volunteers, both compiled records of national prominence — Byron, as a family physician and medical director, and Judy as a recognized leader in aging services, Heinlen noted. “Their contributions to the community, the state and the nation are in the best tradition of AARP’s long record of service to others,” Heinlen said. “Byron and Judy bring to life the words of our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who said that older Americans should seek “to serve, not to be served’.”

Judy served as AARP FL state president for six years and led volunteers during the historic Divided We Fail and Health Action Now AARP campaigns. A pioneer in senior transportation issues, she helped found Meals on Wheels in Orange County and helped establish the Independent Transportation Network of Orlando. Additionally, Judy served as CEO for the Senior Resource Alliance, the Area Agency on Aging for Central Florida.

Judy played an instrumental role in the restructuring of AARP’s volunteer program and was appointed as the Community Service Rep on the First Executive Council for AARP. Her most recent activities include guest lecturer on aging issues at the University of Central Florida. She started classes in 2010 as a member of Life@UCF, a lifelong learning institute for older adults and has since been elected to its Board of Directors.
Dr. Thames served on the AARP national board, as well as the boards of AARP Services, Inc., and AARP Financial; chaired the AARP Insurance Trust and served on the AARP National Policy Council.

Part of his volunteer efforts for AARP included testifying before Congress on elder issues, particularly on the rights of our most frail elderly in Medicaid, on the transportation needs of elders (both at national and state level) and on the Medicare prescription-drug plan for elders. He continues his life’s work as a consultant.
Both are strong believers in the idea that it is important to continue efforts to enhance the abilities of older adults to maintain their independence and involvement in their communities.

The AARP Andrus Award for Community Service recognizes members and volunteers who, through volunteer service, are significantly enhancing the lives of individuals age 50 and older. The award will be formally presented to Dr. Byron and Judy Thames at a ceremony Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott in Orlando/Lake Buena Vista.

Helping Heinlen to present the 2011 Andrus Award will be Maeona Mendelson, Ph.D., of Kailua, Hawaii. Dr. Mendelson is a member of AARP’s Board of Directors and chair of AARP Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“This award acts as a symbol to members and the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” said Heinlen. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions AARP volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”

Recipients across the nation are chosen for their ability to enhance the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.

The award is named for AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who said that the highest purpose of life for those age 50 and over is “to serve, not to be served.”

Read more on all the 2011 Andrus Award Nominees.

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