As the nation and our communities gradually come back to life 18 months after the COVID-19 pandemic changed us forever, I want to take this opportunity to salute AARP volunteers. Our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, saw AARP members as an army of useful citizens who could use their talents and lifetimes of experience to make life better for all people.
Never has her vision been more fully realized than during the pandemic.
We could not have gotten through this challenging time without them. They have been innovative, resilient and adaptable. Through their compassionate and caring service, they’ve made a real, positive difference in communities across the country.
Thanks to our volunteers, AARP continued to fight effectively for Americans age 50-plus and their families.
AARP volunteers have:
- Joined our staff colleagues to advocate for nursing home safety, financial and health security, and more.
- Sent handwritten cards to veterans and nursing home residents and made over 24,000 calls to those who may have been lonely or isolated through our new Friendly Voice program.
- Shared critical information on how to find the COVID-19 vaccines in their areas.
- Boosted spirits by getting involved in a growing roster of fun activities — from fitness classes and cooking lessons to movies and trivia nights.
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AARP volunteers put to rest the myth that older people can’t adapt to new technology. They’ve played a key role in countless virtual events and added their voices virtually to the debate over critical national issues.
As part of our response to the pandemic, we created the AARP Community Connections website, which helped organize and find local groups to help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends and loved ones. The program has helped more than 630,000 people.
And AARP volunteers have supported one another — making thousands of volunteer-to-volunteer calls and emails to make sure their colleagues were doing OK, helping each other learn new technologies, and sharing a kind word or a laugh. One of the most positive signs I’ve seen emerging from this crisis is the recognition that our communities are stronger when generations look out for one another.
Amid the heartache, loss and suffering around the world, we have seen dramatic examples of people of all ages coming together to support those in need, to aid neighbors and friends, and to care for those who are struggling. AARP volunteers have been leading this effort and are committed to seeing it continue once the pandemic is behind us.
It’s been a long, hard road. But despite the challenges we continue to face, largely as a result of the more contagious delta variant, we have made significant progress in fighting the virus.
We appreciate all you have done and continue to do to return us to a more normal way of life. On behalf of AARP’s nearly 38 million members and all people 50-plus and their families, I thank you for dedicating your time, your talents and your passion to helping AARP reach the families we serve.