I recently had the opportunity to share our 2014 AARP Wisconsin Annual Report with another organization’s leadership who were unfamiliar with the full depth and breadth of AARP’s work in the state. As they paged through all the accomplishments of the last year, they matter-of-factly asked the question of how many staff we had in the state office to accomplish so many impressive things for the 50-plus population in Wisconsin. When I said seven, they said, “Excuse me. You said 17?” To which I replied, “No, seven.” After a moment or two of quizzical looks, I broke the silence. “Let me tell you a bit about our volunteers…”
As we at AARP know so well, our volunteers are an amazing mosaic of skills and talents, personal and professional experiences, and passions and desires. We lean on them to carry our advocacy messages to elected officials in every corner of the state. We rely on them to be our right (and left) hand at events like our financial security happy hours, our listening post events in rural areas of Wisconsin, and our community outreach events like our AARP Days at Miller Park. We rely on them to be the voice of AARP at health fairs, senior fairs, and county fairs, spreading the word about what AARP is doing to ensure that no one’s possibilities are limited by their age.
But, that’s just the beginning! AARP Volunteers helped complete over 42,000 tax returns statewide annually through our AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program in 2014 alone and held over 230 Driver Safety classes in 2014 to help keep older drivers independent, safe, and confident while on the road. They assembled over 1600 emergency disaster supply kits for AARP’s Annual Day of Service in Milwaukee to be distributed to area residents. And, they help chart the strategic direction of our work through the input and guidance of our Executive Council.
We know the heart of AARP truly beats to the rhythm of countless volunteers that make AARP the organization it is today with over 37 million members nationwide and over 810,000 members in Wisconsin. With National Volunteer Week being April 12 th-18 th, we want to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for your commitment to service on behalf of others and for the time, energy, and talents you lend to enhance the lives of 50-plus Wisconsinites all across the state.
— Sam Wilson, AARP Wisconsin State Director
P.S. And to recognize volunteers age 50-plus who make a difference in the lives of others, we’re now accepting nominations for the 2015 AARP Wisconsin Andrus Award for Community Service.