advocates action shotAccording to recent AARP research, roughly 63 million Americans volunteer with an organization in their community every year. That is an astounding number of individuals who give freely of their time, energy, and passion to help individuals in need and strengthen our communities.

This year, we join others in celebrating National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) as a way to recognize the spirit of volunteerism wherever it may be embodied and the positive impact volunteers have made in our communities, our state, and across our nation.

At AARP, volunteerism is built into our DNA and the actions of our volunteers breathe life into the motto of AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, “To serve, not to be served.”

This motto is at the core of the thousands of tax returns prepared by AARP volunteers in Wisconsin each year. It’s at the core of the hundreds of driver safety courses taught across the state to enhance the driving skills of older adults.

It’s also at the center of our advocacy work in Madison and Washington, D.C. where volunteers are seeking positive policy advancements that improve the lives of all 50+ Wisconsinites. While Dr. Andrus’ motto may not be known to all, I would bet that most all would agree, whether or not it’s with AARP, that her words pretty well sum up what it means to be a volunteer.

There’s a quote by Booker T. Washington that states, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” For 40 years, National Volunteer Week has been a time to recognize the uplifting spirit of volunteerism that is exemplified day in and day out through service to others.

To our volunteers, we thank you for your dedication and service to others through AARP and for those of you who direct your volunteerism through other channels, we thank you as well for connecting and giving freely of your skills and talents each and every day.

– Sam Wilson, State Director

P.S.  And to recognize volunteers age 50+ who make a difference, we’re now accepting nominations for the 2014 AARP WI Andrus Award for Community Service.