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AARP AARP States Alaska

Volunteer Norman Heyano recognized with 2021 Andrus Award

Dillingham’s Norman Heyano Receives AARP’s Most Prestigious Volunteer Award

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Norman "Koolie" Heyano is the Volunteer Fire Chief for the City of Dillingham
City of Dillingham

AARP’s commitment to volunteer service can be traced back to AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, whose motto was “to serve, not to be served.” Each year, AARP Alaska honors the legacy of Dr. Andrus with the Andrus Award for Community Service.  Alaskan Norman Heyano has been selected by AARP Alaska to receive the 2021 Andrus Award, the Association’s most prestigious volunteer award.  Alice Ruby, who nominated Mr. Heyano for the award, writes:

As the Volunteer Fire Chief in Dillingham, Alaska, Norman "Koolie" Heyano shows us that people over 50 can still have a significant impact on the community around them. Although Norman is in his seventies and retired, he gladly volunteers as an ambulance driver and first responder in Dillingham.

The COVID pandemic drew a lot of attention to first responders and medical providers as courageous and inspiring individuals. During the past year, Norman was one of only a handful of volunteers (sometimes as few as three) that continued to respond with the ambulance group in Dillingham. His dedication and commitment are beyond comparison. Norman dedicates his time, his health and his life to the service of others.

Through the height of the pandemic, Norman’s positive attitude helped keep the other volunteers inspired. Without him, I believe that they would have lost their enthusiasm and commitment. Norman’s selfless volunteering has led him to provide life-saving care and transportation to those in need.

The AARP Alaska team received five nominations from across Alaska, honoring the important contributions volunteers over age 50 make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve. All those nominated deserve to be recognized:

Stephanie Frackman – Whether she is rocking newborns in the NICU, working the gift shop or baby boutique, pushing a book cart often stocked with her own resources, or sitting with the dying, Stephanie Frackman is one of Providence Hospital’s most committed volunteers. At the age of 78, Stephanie joyfully advocates for those young and old at the hospital. During her time volunteering at Providence, Stephanie often brings patients home-cooked meals and calls to check on them after they return home from the hospital. No matter the task at hand, whether cleaning toilets or running errands, Stephanie willingly offers her helping hand all while enduring her own painful health issues.

Bob Gorman – From box building and produce sorting to distributing food to clients, Bob Gorman is a beloved volunteer at the Food Bank of Alaska. Since August 2020, Bob has clocked 203.25 volunteer hours serving families, children, and seniors across Alaska to make sure nobody goes hungry. Bob’s volunteer ethic is unparalleled in his timeliness and willingness to help at last-minute events. Bob is not afraid to lift and stack hundreds of 30-pound boxes. Through his humor and friendliness, Bob inspires the other volunteers around him all while ensuring the work at hand gets done.

Jeff Sloss –During his days at the Southeast Alaska food bank, Jeff assists in helping the food bank’s driver pick up donations from the local stores in Juneau in addition to other jobs. Jeff  has been volunteering at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank for two years and it doesn’t look like he intends to stop anytime soon. Not only is Jeff a fixture at the food bank, he also volunteers at the Juneau Trail Mix, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and Meals on Wheels.

Van Waggoner – Van Waggoner is a reliable helping hand at the Food Bank of Alaska, volunteering several days a week. He does quality work during the food bank’s Produce Sorting and Senior Box Build events. During Box Builds, he lifts hundreds of heavy boxes onto pallets during one shift. When other volunteers can’t make it, Van makes sure to still fulfill the food bank’s box building quota. During his two-hour shifts, Van makes lifting a total of 350 boxes that weigh 40 pounds look easy, despite recently turning 75. What Van does for the food bank is crucial in ensuring that families and seniors are fed across the state.

“It is inspiring to see the level of commitment and service represented by this year’s Andrus Award nominees,” said Daryl Royce, State Director of Outreach at AARP Alaska.  “Even in the face of COVID-19, our state’s 50 and older population are making a difference in the lives of Alaskans.”

Norman Heyano will be recognized for winning the 2021 Andrus Award during AARP Alaska’s caregiving concert with Libby Rodrick on December 16 at 7 pm.  This concert is free and open to the public.  Just tune into AARP Alaska’s Facebook page at 7 pm to view the concert or register here to receive a reminder email when the concert begins.

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