By Danica Lucker
Alan Romero never forgot the impact AARP volunteers had on his parents when they were living in McAllen, Texas, in the late 1970s. They needed help making financial decisions and had nowhere to turn.
“Living in what was then a small town and a Latino community in South Texas, they didn’t have any qualified resources to help them,” Romero explained. “AARP was really their only resource. AARP’s services were so beneficial.”
The experience inspired Romero, 50, who now lives in Fort Collins, to become a volunteer. Since 2016, he’s helped with financial resiliency workshops in Denver, Fort Lupton and Fort Collins. The free events answer people’s questions about topics such as budgeting, financial planning and Social Security.
Volunteering for AARP Colorado is a great fit for Romero, not just because of his family’s background but also because he works as a financial consultant for BBVA Compass Bank.
“I’ve enjoyed giving back to AARP and providing people with the financial tools that they need,” he said.
Romero is among the 1,000 volunteers who serve Colorado’s nearly 700,000 members, said Jeremiah Mora, AARP Colorado associate state director.
“We have volunteers in nearly every corner in the state, and we couldn’t do what we do without them,” Mora said.
The majority assist with programs such as AARP Driver Safety and AARP Foundation Tax-Aide or serve as local ambassadors or resource volunteers.
A source for information
John Giarratano, 67, a retired public school teacher, leads the AARP Resource Center in Pueblo and has been a volunteer since 2010.
The center is housed at the headquarters of the nonprofit Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA), 230 N. Union Ave. Its eight volunteers answer many questions concerning AARP services and programs, legal aid, Tax-Aide, Social Security benefits, health care and insurance.
“We reach a lot of people at that location, and I think SRDA really likes us being there,” said Giarratano. “It’s a very symbiotic relationship, and we complement each other well. We provide people with a lot of useful information.”
Diane Barger, 58, of Grand Junction, has been a member of the AARP Colorado Executive Council, which helps to promote the organization’s strategic goals, since 2016. That allows Barger, who has worked in the health care industry, to tell the association’s story and advocate for AARP’s interests, particularly on the Western Slope.
“We look at the big picture for AARP and then carry out the goals,” she explained.“Because of my line of work and passion for seniors, I’ve always been interested in issues that advocate for older adults,” Barger said.
“I think finding ways to engage people socially and to promote quality of life is very important to our communities,” she added.
Whether people have specific interests or want to help in general ways, AARP Colorado welcomes volunteers. Mora added that Colorado needs more instructors for its Driver Safety program, people to staff the Resource Center in Pueblo and local ambassadors in Denver.
For information on volunteering with AARP Colorado, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-554-5376 toll-free.
Danica Lucker is a writer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo.