By Jill Elizabeth Westfall • When Atlanta residents Ronald and Pam Schad learned they could volunteer in their own city for this year’s three-day gathering of AARP members, entertainers, civil rights icons and policy experts, they signed up right away. They attended Life@50+ in New Orleans last year and were hooked.
“We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves: the people, the venue, the atmosphere, the energy,” said Ronald Schad, 70. “We absolutely loved it. There’s so much going on.”
It’ll be the same pace this year during AARP’s two Life@50+ events. In addition to the Atlanta gathering Oct. 3-5, a Life@50+ spring event was held in Las Vegas.
About 10,000 people are expected at the Georgia World Congress Center, and about 1,000 volunteers are needed. During four-hour shifts, volunteers will greet and guide attendees, take tickets, assist during sessions, work as ushers and help AARP staff make sure the programs run smoothly. There will be an orientation session for them at the Georgia World Congress Center a few weeks prior to the event.
In exchange for their time, volunteers will receive free admission before and after their shifts to all the Life@50+ speeches, workshops and exhibits. Life@50+ attendees will hear from A-list celebrities and experts on topics such as caregiving and starting a business. They will also have a chance to talk to hundreds of exhibitors and reimagine retirement with workshops on finance, travel, fitness and other topics.
“We believe in remaining educated and making informed decisions throughout our lives,” said Schad, who retired six years ago. “That can bring peace of mind, no matter your age or professional status.”
For information on volunteering, call toll-free 877-926-8300 or visit aarp.cvent.com/Life50Atlanta. Volunteers can request preferred positions, days and times, and ask not to have to stand for more than 90 minutes at a time.
Entertainment luminaries will speak at events during Life@50+, and the workshops will be led by national experts such as the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown; fitness expert and tennis champion Martina Navratilova; personal finance journalist Jean Chatzky; and Chris Gardner, a personal-growth expert and author of a best-selling memoir, The Pursuit of Happyness.
“We are simply thrilled to be hosting Life@50+ in Atlanta this year,” especially because it is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., an Atlanta native, said Jewel Constance, community outreach specialist with AARP Georgia. It was during the March on Washington that King delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most famous public addresses in American history. A panel discussion with leaders of the civil rights movement is scheduled for Oct. 5.
A Community Day of Service will launch Life@50+ in Atlanta on Oct. 3 with “voluntourism” projects in neighborhoods citywide. They may include refurbishing homes, schools, landscapes and community centers; mentoring; and constructing new community gardens. There will be full- and half-day assignments. Tools and transportation will be provided.
Event organizers recommend that Atlanta residents who attend Life@50+ consider using public transportation because of limited parking at the Georgia World Congress Center.
For information about attending Life@50+, visit aarp.org/events or call 800-650-6839. AARP members pay $25 for a three-day pass; nonmembers pay $35. Everyone pays their own accommodation costs.
Jill Elizabeth Westfall is a writer living in Atlanta