IMG_7841Jan and Phyllis Wilson, founders of Pride in Community Appearance (PICA), are recipients of the 2013 AARP Iowa Andrus Award for Community Service, the Association’s most prestigious and visible award for volunteer service.

In announcing the award winners, AARP Iowa 2012 Andrus Award winner Larry Neppl of Marion, Iowa, formerly of Fort Dodge, said, “The Wilsons are a great example of what can be done when determined individuals dream big and inspire others to join with them. PICA is a unique volunteer-public-private partnership that is a model for communities everywhere.”

The Wilsons officially received the award at a special recognition ceremony for Andrus Award nominees and AARP member volunteers from across the state on Nov. 13 at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines.  Prior to the West Des Moines celebration, AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern previewed the award for all PICA members at the organization’s annual end-of-the-season supper on Oct. 29 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge.

As AARP’s highest award for community service, the Andrus Award honors the work and legacy of AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.  From the beginning, her motto, “to serve, not to be served,” has shaped AARP’s community service efforts at the national, state and local levels.  This award acknowledges the significant volunteer contributions AARP members and volunteers make in their communities.

A statewide AARP volunteer review committee selected the Wilsons for the Andrus Award in recognition of their years of leading efforts and involving others – across the generations – in beautification efforts throughout the Fort Dodge community.

Since 2002 when the Wilson recruited a group of 11 volunteers to tackle a renovation project at Mitchell Park, PICA has grown to include more than 60 volunteer gardeners and outdoor beautification specialists.

Under the Wilsons’ leadership, PICA has partnered with the city’s parks and recreation department to help beautify 32 Fort Dodge city parks, sports complexes, schools and city buildings over the past 11 years.

Early on, the Wilsons solicited financial assistance for their projects and have received grants and donations from Keep Iowa Beautiful, Diamond Vogel Paints, MidAmerican Energy, Trees Please and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation. They no longer have to solicit donations; organizations and businesses come to them.

PICA has won the Governor’s Volunteer Award, the Keep Iowa Beautiful Award, a plaque from the Iowa Urban and Community Forestry Council and the 2012 Community Service Award of the Martin Luther King Committee.

In January 2013, the Wilsons made a trip to Washington, D.C., on behalf of PICA to accept the First Place National Award from Keep America Beautiful.

AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern said AARP is proud to join in recognizing the remarkable service and impact the organization has had on the lives of volunteers and the community.

“This award acts as a symbol to members and the public that volunteers can make a significant difference for positive social change,” said Sovern.  “The Wilsons embody the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to our society.   The Andrus Award is tangible recognition for their outstanding work.”

AARP Andrus Awards are presented in every state to acknowledge the volunteer work members engage in that enhances the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.