For Eileen Kennedy a perfect day is sitting at the piano and playing until her heart’s content. You might say music is the centerpiece of her life having earned music degrees from Southern and LSU in Baton Rouge and raising two sons Rahni and Rajah who are also accomplished musicians.
“Pursuing my fullest potential as a pianist was at the top of my bucket list when I retired in 2008,” says Eileen. “Since my husband Ronald is an artist and I’m a pianist, I wanted to do something to promote the arts in my retirement.”
But Eileen’s volunteering didn’t stop with serving the DeBose and Mu Phi Epsilon Music Foundations, chartering the state’s first alumni chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon International music fraternity or serving at the Old State Capitol Museum. A champion for the under-served, older adults and women’s issues, Eileen serves at least ten community and faith-based organizations in Baton Rouge.
“Eileen has an open heart for those less fortunate. She looks for opportunities to make the world a better place,” said AARP volunteer State President Brenda Hatfield.
AARP Louisiana has awarded Eileen its highest, most prestigious state volunteer award – the 2013 Andrus Award for Community Service—for her record of achievement and service. Each year AARP honors the legacy of its founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus by recognizing an individual who is sharing their experience, talent and skills to enrich their community.
“Eileen is an extraordinary example of the difference that volunteerism can make in the lives of individuals and in the well-being and vitality of a community,” said Hatfield.
An active member of AARP Midtown Chapter 5433, Eileen also serves on AARP Louisiana’s Capitol Advocacy Team and is a familiar face at the state capitol. Eileen cares deeply about strengthening communities, advocating for people’s safety, their access to health care and healthy foods and embraces life-long learning.
“Be the change you want to see in this world,” said Eileen. “Whatever we’re doing and wherever we are, we are here to serve. If you want to be a leader, you must serve first.”
Dr. Andrus would agree.