Andrea Bozarth, AARP Kansas (left) and Julie Marte, AARP New Jersey pose with AARP National Board President Rob Romasco

Andrea Bozarth, AARP Kansas (left) and Julie Marte, AARP New Jersey, pose with AARP National Board President Rob Romasco

Congratulations to Andrea Bozarth, AARP Kansas Associate State Director for Community Outreach, for receiving the Maureen McKoy Excellence in Service Award, from AARP. This national award recognizes an employee who has fostered significant volunteer engagement, service or community outreach on the job. The award honors Maureen, who was ASD- Community Outreach in Pennsylvania until her 2009 death in a car crash.

“I love being part of the AARP mission in Kansas,” said Ande. “I’m grateful that I have a job that I love and that I can be part of the great work that AARP does.”

An example is also one of Ande’s proudest achievements, the opening of a Grandparents Park in July 2013, the culmination of three years of work in Wichita. That work also led to Wichita signing on to the World Health Organization Age-Friendly Network.

This first grandparents park in Kansas grew from a need identified by neighborhood residents. It occupies two empty lots donated by the city, with contributions from AARP, neighbors and local businesses.

Other Leadership Roles

The park is not the only first for Ande in her nine years with AARP. She leads the Association’s first state Diversity Council. This group of 13 regularly fans out for listening tours across the state, helping staff keep in touch with the needs of multicultural communities and creating connections that lead to projects like the first-ever Native American cooking classes.

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Looking for a way to collaborate, AARP and the Association for American Indian Physicians decided to tackle diabetes education through cooking classes. “We needed somebody with credibility for this audience,” says Ande, so they aimed high: Richard Hetzler, author and head chef for the restaurant at the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum in D.C. His commitment to community service and fundraising for Native American tribes gave him added credibility.

All four Kansas tribes come together for this now-annual event. One has taken the diabetes messages to heart, building a walking trail, taking sugar out of vending machines and giving employees time off to exercise. AARP Kansas has adapted the idea for the African American community, and Oklahoma has adopted it for its own Native American population.

Award Given to Two AARP Staffers

This year marked the first time the Maureen McKoy award has been given to two AARP staff members. Julie Marte, ASD for Mulitcultural Outreach in New Jersey joined Ande in receiving the award. AARP Kansas congratulates both women on this achievement.