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Dedicated volunteers lead the way


Wyoming is fortunate to have the type of culture and communities where helping others and supporting your neighbor is second nature.

Each year, we take the opportunity to celebrate some of our greatest volunteers, and people we get to work with. Following is the seven Community Service Awards beside the Andrus Award that we handed out at our annual volunteer appreciation banquet in Cheyenne this October.

Wadda Community Service Award
Jeri Kennah-Lander

Jeri has gone above and beyond in making sure that forgotten residents who live in the nursing home receive a visit and special gift during the holidays. For the past 23 years, she has served as a community volunteer in many capacities. Jeri volunteers at the hospital tending the gift shop and supporting the hospital auxiliary. She can be found working on a project with her ETA service sorority or raising money for St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, senior center, the Help for Health bus or St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Jeri also serves as the volunteer Chair of the Supervisory Committee for the local credit union.

For 48 years, she volunteered as an election judge. She also has a lifelong commitment to the humanitarian mission of her church.

Jeri’s idea of relaxing is working with her quilting club to make quilts for oncology patients or anyone who is ill and needs one. She knows how a quilt can bring warmth to a cancer patient or comfort a grieving family member. Most of all Jeri’s community work brings warmth and comfort to all who meet her.

Community Partner
Dan Purdue-Cheyenne

Dan served as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Hospital Association (WHA) for the past eight years. He is a strong community partner, working with many different organizations to make health care more affordable and accessible to all Wyoming residents.

Currently, he is co-chairing the Wyoming Medicaid Solutions Coalition, which is a delicate and demanding task given the diverse personalities and interests of Coalition partners.

Jana Ginter-Cheyenne

In 2005, Jana joined the AARP advocacy team. She worked extensively with the team on consumer healthcare issues such as removing discretionary clauses from insurance contracts and helping urge our legislators to set up a medical review panel for denied insurance claims. She worked with other AARP advocates on several bills to restrict predatory lending practices in our state. She continues to work to pass legislation to halt Medicaid fraud and works to make healthcare more accessible to all of Wyoming.

Retired Educators
Chuck & Anne Custis-Sheridan

Chuck retired 20 years ago as a counselor at Central Junior High School in Sheridan. He also taught at the Sheridan High School for three years. After Chuck retired, he joined the Wyoming Retried Education Personnel (WREP) and the Wyoming Educators Association. He was also a member of the Sheridan Retired Teacher Unit. He served in several officer positions such as president, legislative liaison, and lobbyist for WREP and the WEA.
Currently, he is the President of the Retired Teachers & Educators’ Unit (RTEU). The former RTEU president, Wayne Schatz, was asked to be the President of WREP, so Chuck volunteered to fill the open RTEU vacancy.

Anne Custis taught family and consumer science for 30 years at the Central Junior High School in Sheridan. She is originally from Idaho, and received her teaching degree from Idaho State University.

Anne retired in 2003. It was a short retirement because she was asked to teach a child-care class parttime that included first-aid and CPR components for students and community participants.

She became a member of WEA and served as the WREP state secretary for six years. Anne continued her volunteer work in WREP as a co-chairperson for two years and chairperson for four years.

Anne is also a member of the Wyoming chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She said that WREP and WEA opened the doors for her to meet other educators and expand her social network.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
Judy Nelson–Laramie

Wyoming Tax-Aide clients and staff know Judy as a tough, practical lady, who gets the job done with diligence and pride.

After living in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, she bought her house, sight unseen, and moved to Laramie. Immediately, she recognized a need to assist the elderly population with filing their income taxes, so she volunteered with the Tax-Aide program.

Judy is a caring and reliable person, not only to the clients served, but also, her responsibilities as a District Coordinator (DC).

In addition to her DC responsibilities, Judy is also the Training Specialist and helped get a formal statewide training program in place for Wyoming instructors. Last year, Judy took the bull by the horns and developed a comprehensive state training program.

Material from the various sources are reviewed, consolidated and made available electronically and personally. This year, Judy recruited three instructors and will conduct the first Wyoming Instructor workshop. All of this while enduring the stress of two knee surgeries.

Her attention to detail and a memory like a steel trap are valuable assets to the program. Her commitment and willingness to step forward and assume responsibilities others shy away from strengthens the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program.

Driver Safety
Linda Harding-Cheyenne

Linda started teaching the AARP Safe Driver program in August 2012. In addition, Linda was asked to become the Safe Driver District Coordinator for Laramie County. In October 2013, Linda was certified to teach the new AARP Safe Driver Course.

When Linda and her husband, Chip, became involved with the AARP Driver Safety course, they wanted to bring a different perspective to the course and the co-teaching provided an opportunity to share a real-life viewpoint and experiences.

They felt it gives the students a break in listening to just one person and keeps boredom to a minimum.

Linda said she works with an amazing “team” of volunteer instructors. She couldn’t do it without them, and their dedication to their work. Linda’s goal for each class is to learn one thing students didn’t know before coming to class. If they do learn something new, she feels the class was a success!

Chapter Leaders
Bill & Joan Cole–Cheyenne

Bill and Joan have lived in Wyoming all their lives. Joan was a teacher at Dildine Elementary School for 22 years. Bill worked as a carpet installer at the Interior Service for 20 years. In addition, he worked with the school district in the maintenance department for 12 years before deciding to retire. When Joan and Bill turned 50, they joined AARP and became members of the two AARP Chapters, 310 and 3146. Chapter 310 met in the afternoon and the Chapter 3146 met in the evening. As Chapter membership began to dwindle, the two Chapters decided to merge.

Joan and Bill have been Chapter members for 25 years. Joan has held officer positions as President, Vice-President, and Secretary for both Chapters. She is currently the President of Chapter 310. Bill attended the monthly meetings and provided his time and support at Chapter activities and events. Bill is no stranger to volunteering. He volunteers his time with Cub Scout and Boy Scout groups.

They both like to coordinate and participate in the bus trips for AARP members. Bill and Joan recently returned from New Orleans where they had 40 members join them. They see the trips as adventures members can socialize and meet new friends.

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