Mary Beavis -- NM AndrusMary Beavis, of Albuquerque, has been named AARP New Mexico’s 2013 Andrus Award winner. The award is named for AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus and is given to a volunteer who most exemplifies her example and motto of  “to serve, not to be served.” 

“Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus would be pleased that this year’s recipient of the Andrus Award was, like herself, a teacher,” said Jackie Cooper, AARP New Mexico State President. “Mary knew her way around a high school science classroom before accepting a state-level position as Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support.  Her 25 years of professional experience in the classroom and administrative skills was an excellent training ground for the political landscape of New Mexico.” 

“Mary is truly a very special person, who has given back her entire career, first as an educator and then through volunteering for a number of organizations. I feel very honored that Mary has spent so much of her time and energy volunteering for AARP. She is an individual that not only puts in a lot of extra hours working on health and consumer issues but she really cares about what she’s working on and is passionate about helping others,” Cooper said. 

Beavis went from AARP New Mexico’s state legislative committee, where she served for eight years, two as chairwoman, to the AARP National Policy Council, a 25-member all volunteer policy analysis and advisory board to the AARP Board of Directors. The Council helps shape the policy, and therefore, direction, of the entire AARP organization. 

Although many people associate AARP with issues like health care and Social Security, Beavis helped shape AARP national policy to include one consumer issue that is vital to New Mexico and that is water. 

She worked with three other states in the Southwest, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, before coming up with a “white paper” that convinced AARP’s national Board of Directors that water should be included in AARP’s handbook. Today AARP volunteers monitor and weigh in on some of the water issues and policies that are developed at the state Legislature. 

In presenting the Andrus Award to Beavis, Cooper said, “I admire the body of work Mary has achieved for AARP by successfully using her experience, intelligence and skills across a spectrum of issues. Mary is persistent in her goals, tireless in her efforts and dedicated to working on any issue that is AARP’s focus.” 

Beavis’ work, however, has not been limited to AARP. A retired science educator and administrator, Beavis is active in her community and involved with many professional groups. She served as a Governor-appointed Commissioner for the New Mexico Museum of Space History and was a board member for the Central New Mexico Community College’s Emeritus Academy. Beavis was also chair of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Advisory Committee for retired science teachers. She served as AARP’s State Association of Educational Retirees Liaison and was a legislative liaison with the NSTA.  She also recently completed a six-year term on AARP New Mexico’s Executive Council. 

Nominees for the Andrus Award, which in of itself is an honor, also included: 

Jerry Gunderson, of Las Cruces, moved to New Mexico a year ago from Minneapolis. While Gunderson is fairly new to the community, he is not new to volunteering and community service.  Within days of his arrival in Las Cruces, he began finding ways to get more involved in his new community. He started working at the Munson Center and became an RSVP volunteer. He worked with AARP in Minnesota and has continued that work here. Gunderson also serves as an Ombudsman with the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department. 

Joan Menter, of Edgewood, who is not with us this evening, has dedicated her time and efforts to a donkey rescue group where she, even with a broken arm, managed to help build shelters for these animals, doing a lot of the labor herself.  She donated supplies and talked others into donating materials as well as fostered donkeys herself. 

Pat Jones, of Carlsbad, who is also not here tonight, serves as the chairperson for the San Jose Senior Center Advisory Board, helps with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and spearheaded an effort by the Center’s quilters to make quilts for the wounded warrior’s program. A Cancer survivor, Pat is known for her dedication, kindness, and generous spirit.

(Photo caption: Mary Beavis, 2013 AARP New Mexico Andrus Award for Community Service recipient.)