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AARP is in Your Corner, Connecticut

More than 50 years ago, a high school principal in California by the name of Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus found a retired teacher living in a chicken coop because she couldn’t afford proper housing or medical care. Andrus was so distressed by the women’s situation and the sense of injustice that it represented, she vowed to change not only the way older Americans are treated, but the way Americans view aging. Her actions grew into what we know today as AARP.

Since 1958, AARP’s mission has been to help improve the quality of life for all older Americans, to help them fulfill their goals and dreams and to age with dignity. It’s why we fight to protect your Social Security and Medicare, and police against scams and fraud. It’s why we fight to lower your energy bills and provide more choice and control over how you and your loved ones receive long-term care. It’s also why we fight for retiree and consumer protections on Wall Street and help 50+ workers improve their career skills and find employment.

In Connecticut, AARP is visible both at the State Capitol and in your local communities. And even before AARP opened a state office in Connecticut in 2001, a small group of dedicated volunteers were working with AARP to improve the health and financial security of older Connecticut residents.

Today, AARP Connecticut continues to honor the life and legacy of our Founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.

We work with nearly 800 volunteers in Connecticut to advocate on issues at the State Capitol and to support volunteer, community-based initiatives that help make a difference in our communities and improve the lives of older residents, such as the Driver Safety Program, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, and Benefits Outreach. We also have 47 local AARP chapters that host educational speakers, sponsor trips and social events, raise money for charity and provide members with additional opportunities to serve their community.

AARP Connecticut State Director Brenda Kelley said, “AARP’s volunteers continue to be the heart and soul of everything we do. AARP has an all-volunteer Board of Directors, and here in Connecticut, our volunteer State president and Executive Council help set our strategic agenda and determine the issues we work on. They are both our advisors and our boots on the ground.”

Today, with nearly 600,000 members in Connecticut, AARP is able to leverage our collective strength to make sure that the needs, interests and concerns of the 50+ community are heard in the marketplace and by our elected officials. View the results of our recent survey online.

Recently, AARP won victories when the State Legislature reduced an onerous new fee that had been added to the bills of low-income elderly clients receiving home care services through the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders.

In the first weeks after the new fee was added, more than 400 people dropped off the program because they could no longer afford to receive care at home – putting them at greater risk of entering a nursing home. AARP successfully advocated to get the fee reduced by more than half, saving the average person on the program about $80 a month, and those with the greatest needs as much as $250 a month.

AARP is disappointed that Governor Malloy has proposed increasing this fee again as part of his 2011/2012 State Budget. We will continue fighting to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities can choose where to receive care and have access to affordable home and community-based care.
With the help of our Driver Safety Program volunteers, AARP was successful in getting legislation passed last year that authorized a 4-hour Driver Safety Course in Connecticut and extended the mandatory insurance discount for drivers aged 60+ who complete the course. Regulations also were adopted to authorize a mandatory insurance discount for drivers 60+ who take an online driver safety course.

When it comes to saving you money, AARP is continuing to fight to lower electricity rates in Connecticut. Connecticut ratepayers currently pay the highest electricity rates in the continental U.S., and nearly 15% higher than neighboring states. Last year, AARP championed important legislation that would help reduce residential electricity rates, provide additional relief for low-income customers and provide consumer protections for residents switching from standard service to a retail supplier. The legislation passed both houses of the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Rell. AARP is again working with legislative leaders and the new Governor to enact similar legislation in 2011. Learn more and join our campaign.

As part of our Voter Education efforts in 2010, AARP Connecticut produced voter guides for every statewide office and nearly all local legislative races. The guides highlighted each candidate’s views on a variety of issues critical to 50+ voters. The guides were made available online and at local events throughout the state leading up to the November elections. AARP also hosted 2 congressional candidate debates and a gubernatorial candidate debate in October 2010. The debates were filmed and made available for viewing online.

In response to the ongoing recession and high unemployment rates in Connecticut, AARP and the AARP Foundation joinedwith the Urban League of Southern Connecticut to open several AARP Foundation WorkSearch Centers in the state, which provide hands-on help to adults over age 50 who are looking for work, or to improve their career skills. AARP has developed a host of new tools and resources designed specifically for the needs of 50+ workers that are available online and at the new WorkSearch Centers in Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven.

AARP also is working with the AARP Foundation to alleviate hunger among older adults. An estimated 3.6 million people aged 65 and over live in poverty in the United States. Most of these people could be receiving food assistance. But only 34 percent of eligible older Americans get that food assistance. Over the last two years, AARP Connecticut and our volunteers have been helping to promote the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which helps low-income adults and families buy the nutritious food they need to stay healthy. We created a do-it-yourself SNAP toolkit and launched a community outreach campaign, featuring a Connecticut statewide SNAP hotline (1-866-974-7627) which is helping to increase the number of people enrolled in SNAP. This year, AARP and the AARP Foundation have teamed up with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon to support the national Drive to End Hunger initiative. 

Find local opportunities to volunteer in the fight against hunger at Create the Good.

These are just some of the ways that AARP Connecticut is helping to enhance the quality of life for all as we age. AARP was founded on the premise that no one should have to live in a chicken coop.

Today, we continue to create opportunities and drive social change to address the wants and needs of the 50+ population to help them live their best life. How can we serve you?

We invite you to learn more about AARP Connecticut and tell us what you think. Visit our website  or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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