Leslie “Les” Pence of Sheridan has been selected by AARP Indiana to receive the 2015 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service. This award, which is named after AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, is AARP’s most prestigious volunteer tribute that recognizes outstanding individuals who are sharing their experience, talents and skills to enrich the lives of others. Les was recently presented with the award at AARP Indiana’s annual volunteer summit.
Since taking the helm of the AARP Driver Safety program in Indiana about three years ago, Pence has grown the volunteer base – Driver Safety instructors and other support staff – by more than 400 percent. And, the number of Driver Safety classes offered in Indiana has increased by 500 percent.
“If Les were running a company he’d be eligible for a promotion or large bonus for these kinds of numbers,” said former AARP Indiana State Director June Lyle. “But, since he’s a volunteer we can’t do either of those. We can, however, recognize and thank him for what he has done with the Driver Safety program.”
Pence’s commitment to growing the program is because, as he puts it, they are “saving lives.” The AARP Driver Safety program in Indiana offers in-person courses all throughout the state, teaching folks about the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and how to operate a vehicle more safely in today's increasingly-challenging driving environment.
Pence credits his extensive professional career in education for his interest in the Driver Safety program. Following his military service in the Army, he taught music at South Whitley High School, where he met his wonderful wife Martha. From teacher he became a principal, then a school superintendent. He also has an extensive civic record, having volunteered with religious, political and non-profit organizations.
“We at AARP would like to thank Les not only for what he does with the Driver Safety program here in Indiana, but what he does for our community and how much passion he puts into volunteering and life in general,” Lyle said. “It is genuine, and contagious.”