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AARP Colorado Advocates Hit the Statehouse for Session 2014

2014 Advocates

After reviewing 10 bills, which is just a fraction of the total they’ll track this season, the AARP Colorado advocacy volunteers walked to the Capitol Jan. 13 and registered to be lobbyists.

Each year, AARP Colorado volunteers must sign up at the Colorado Legislature to advocate on behalf of the state’s seniors and their families. This year, about 20 volunteers registered, twice as many as in 2011. In fact, the AARP Colorado advocacy team has grown to 24 members – its largest membership ever.

“We’re growing because of word of mouth and the fact that people want to do something meaningful with their time and they know they can make a difference as an AARP advocate while having fun,” said Kelli Fritts, AARP Colorado advocacy director.

Volunteers, including A.W. Schnellbacher and Jean Nofles are long-time advocates in the halls of the Capitol and were there to renew their registration for another legislative season. Others, including many new members filled out paperwork before receiving their first lobbyist cards.

Fritts said the state office is fortunate to have so many dedicated and hard-working advocates. Among the volunteer advocates are retired Medicare executives, experts in government and utilities, a number of lawyers and those who have earned Ph.Ds, as well as a former rocket scientist.

“We have the best volunteers in the country,” she said. “Seriously, we are known for the caliber of our volunteers.”

The volunteers are very effective. Last year, AARP Colorado fought for and helped to win an additional $4 million to help fund the Older Coloradan’s Act, which helps older adults stay in their homes and independent with help from community services, including Meals on Wheels, transportation and ombudsman services that keep overall costs down.

AARP advocates also helped to beat two bills to deregulate telephone service that would have taken away any and all possible future local oversight of communications companies; they promoted a bill to make voting easier, and they fought to keep untested drugs out of the market.

“AARP plans to continue our advocacy efforts, which help older Coloradans age in place, keep phone land lines affordable, and allow access to representative government. The 2014 class of volunteer advocates are issue experts whose research and oversight will be a boon to Colorado's political process,” said Morie Smile, AARP state director.

This year’s advocates will focus on utilities, housing and disabilities, as well as continuing to gain more funding for the Older Coloradan’s Act, just to name a few.

The 2014 AARP advocacy members are: Schnellbacher, Nofles, Steve Chaffee, Diane Lindsey, Greg Glischinski, Dennis Valentine, Eula Adams, Bev Agnew, Irene Martinez Jordan, Glenn Cooper, Margaret Hughes, Shirley Leow, Bill Levis, Carol Pace, Ben Moultrie, Ann Norton, Teresa Reed, Jill Sanford, Richard Stevens, Fred Wilhoft, Shari Wilkins, Mike Wolford, Linda Worrell, and advocacy chair Kathleen Flynn.

Anyone interested in volunteering for AARP Colorado, should call 1-866-554-5376.

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