AARP Wyoming announced two winners for the AARP Community Challenge, aiming to create change and improve quality of life at the community-level. The winning projects include projects in Casper as well as Jackson. Both grants will be used to fund age-friendly bus stops in their respective communities.

Each project was funded through the AARP Community Challenge grant and is set to be completed by November 1, 2017.

“These awards show the continued commitment of AARP to maintain a high quality of life and livability in Wyoming communities,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway.

In Casper, the grant will provide a safer and more convenient bus stop behind the city’s east side Albertsons at 2625 East Second Street. The bus stop will provide a bench and shelter to offer protection from the elements, while replacing a bus stop which is located further away from a current service area. It will also make it easier for all citizens to take advantage of an area that provides affordable grocery shopping, pharmacy, a second hand store, laundromat, bank, and churches. This bus stop location was identified in the recently updated Casper Senior Services survey.

The age-friendly bus stop in Casper will be a project involving both private contractors as well as volunteer assistance. The Casper Reveilee Rotary Club has offered to keep project costs down by volunteering to prepare the site and set concrete forms, while also helping provide manpower for the installation of the shelter.

“This project is important because there are so many people over 50 who either can’t drive for a variety of reasons, and the bus system is the only way for them to get around. For them getting to the grocery story is top on the list for where people need to go,” says AARP Executive Council Member and project committee member, Dave Hough.

In Jackson, a similar bus stop will be installed at and replace a current stop located at, which is cluttered with weeds, a broken down vehicle and other trash in an underserved area of the community. A bench will be placed on the site and age-friendly signage will entice low-income seniors, disabled individuals, and young families to use the bus system.

The bus stop will take the place of a current stop located on Rancher Street across from the Pioneer Homestead Senior apartments on the east side of Jackson. Becky Zaist is the director of the Jackson Hole Senior Center and says the project is one which Age-Friendly Jackson, a grassroots organization which works for better inclusivity for Jackson residents, has been considering for some time.

“It is a big deal to us because this has been a sore point for three years,” says Zaist. “It needed to be fixed. It is one thing to identify a problem and another to have the resources to change the problem.”

The project will be managed by Age-Friendly Jackson Hole under the umbrella of the Jackson Senior Center. Other organizations partnering on the project include the Town of Jackson, Teton Botanic Gardens, and the local Weed and Pest District. The targeted population will be able to access the bus stop and travel to areas of need such as grocery stores, second-hand shops, jobs, and pharmacy. If funds allow, the grant will pay for a second bench which is needed at another bus stop in town.

“Great communities require careful planning and time,” said AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond. “These quick action projects will give community leaders the motivation and momentum to create greater change.”

All of the winning projects in this challenge will deliver on one or all of the following:

  • Improve social connections through the built environment benefiting people of all ages and abilities in the community.
  • Expand opportunities for all residents, such as job, volunteer, and educational/training opportunities.
  • Drive inclusive community engagement and interaction across a diverse population.

For a complete list of the winners and projects, visit aarp.org/CommunityChallenge.

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