My four-year tenure as the State President of AARP DC comes to a close on December 31, 2018. It has been an honor to serve on behalf of the 186,000 DC residents who are over the age of 50, including the 87,000 who are AARP members.

As I reflect on this volunteer leadership experience, the areas of advocacy around Age Friendly DC Initiative (AFDC), volunteer engagement and staff dedication are highlights of my tenure.

As an original signer of the letter to the Mayor requesting that the District of Columbia become engaged with AFDC, I have watched its development through three Executive Administrations.  I am pleased with the progress that is being made and remain confident that the AARP DC State Office will continue to monitor the pulse and effectiveness of AFDC.  While it remains a work in progress, it is also a great opportunity for older adults in the District of Columbia to have a focus budetarily, programmatically and socially.  Through the domains of AFDC, there is a framework that becomes a fabric that can be woven throughout the government, businesses and community at large.

The DC State Office would not be as effective if it was not for the dedication of volunteers.  From the Executive Council to the Ward Liaisons to our consistent and regular volunteers – you have been the backbone of our work.  I have countless stories of our volunteers and impact (there is not enough space to articulate here).  I will miss the smiling faces at events, the engagement with members of chapters and the intense insight of members of the Executive Council and Ward Liaisons.

Finally, the dedication and professionalism of the DC State Office staff has my deep admiration.  I have watched these individuals give of themselves tirelessly on behalf of AARP members in the District of Columbia.  I have watched them fan out across the City to insure that caregivers have the tools and resources.  I have watched them bring their “A” game on a daily basis to ensure that AARP members’ voices are heard in the Executive & Legislative Branches at the Wilson Building.  The DC State Office staff members are heroes who fight the good fight of faith daily.

AARP DC’s dynamic team of volunteers and staff accomplished a lot in 2018.

We Advocated

  • AARP DC volunteers showed up in red AARP shirts in the halls of Capitol Hill and the Wilson Building to be seen and heard on important issues.
  • In the spring, AARP DC and community partners organized a Ward 1 and Council Chair candidate forum with questions focused on housing accessibility, employment for the 50+, improving transit policy, and access to home and community-based services.
  • In the summer, we kicked off advocacy for an age-friendly DC budget in year 2020, with a Budget Forum including guest speakers Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ed Lazere, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. (Click here to view the full conversation.)
  • This fall, we launched the Wednesdays at the Wilson Building (W@W) video series that provides brief updates on the issues that contribute toward an Age-Friendly city where individuals of all ages can live, work and play. You can view these videos on topics ranging from transportation, to housing and food security issues.

We Engaged

  • AARP DC staff and volunteers connected with the community at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on the National Mall, the Capital Pride Festival and the inaugural Beacon Celebration of the Arts.
  • We celebrated 50 years of professional tennis at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament with a free tennis lesson and tickets to the match, where an oversized AARP Membership card was delivered at center court to recognize the tournament’s 50th anniversary.
  • AARP members and their guests were offered local discounts this year at the GALA Hispanic Theatre and the National Theatre, and the chance to register for tickets to free film screenings as part of the Movies for Grownups program.

We Supported & Empowered

  • Following the devastating fire that displaced nearly 200 residents of Arthur Capper Senior Apartments, AARP DC staff and volunteers quickly responded to meet the immediate needs of the residents by working with Legal Counsel for the Elderly to identify individual needs, gather donations, and distribute the items to those seniors. To further display AARP’s caring and commitment to those 50-plus in Washington DC, AARP DC organized a Thanksgiving-themed meal exclusively for the residents to connect with one another in fellowship. We secured from the World Central Kitchen the gift of food, and the chefs to prepare it for over 150 Capper residents in the Thanksgiving week; and the support of U.S. Marines to serve it.
  • AARP volunteers managed impactful programs in DC. For example, Penn Branch Chapter 3473 purchased school uniforms, backpacks, coats and more for students in need at Randle Highlands Elementary School in SE DC, and the Shepherd Park Chapter 2667 hosted a special program called “The Four Fs: Fun, Food, Fitness and Facts.”

In closing, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the District of Columbia State President.  While I will transition from this position, I will continue to work with AARP in areas that provide the opportunity for purpose and passion to intersect.  Your support of the District of Columbia State Office critical to is effectiveness.  I not only believe that you can make a difference, I am confident that you will BE the difference in the coming new year.

I pray that this Holiday Season will bring you joy, peace and love as you continue to being the best YOU that you can be.