AARP selected Maui residents William “Bill” and Lena Staton to receive the 2017 Hawaii Andrus Award for Community Service, the organization’s most prestigious state volunteer recognition award.

The Andrus Award is an annual award for exemplary volunteer leadership named after AARP’s founder, Ethel Percy Andrus (1884-1967), who exemplified AARP’s motto: “To serve, not to be served.”

The Statons conceived of and coordinated the “Maui Welcomes Home Her Vietnam Veterans” event on Maui as part of the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War.  Bill, a Vietnam Vet, was concerned when he saw that all of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration events activities were taking place on Oahu. Rather than have Neighbor Island veterans pay out of their own pocket to fly to Honolulu, Staton offered to spearhead an event on Maui.  The event was so successful that in 2017, AARP Hawaii helped expand Bill’s idea to include events for Hawaii and Kauai county Vietnam veterans.

Bill Staton has a long history of service and helping others on Maui. He served as the Maui County State of Hawaii veterans representative for 20 years and continues to advocate for veterans on the Veterans Administration Advisory Board for the Pacific Rim, the Maui County Veterans Council, and the VietNam Veterans of Maui County.

After teaching anger management classes for nearly30 years, Bill created a free, co-educational class called BridgeBuilders to teach people some of the skills and tools needed for all healthy relationships. He’s also been a mediator and mentor for Mediation Services of Maui since 1987.

Lena helps distribute backpacks with food for Wailuku Elementary School’s Backpack Buddies program, which helps feed students who may not have meals on weekends. She’s also been the school’s Community Representative on the Wailuku Elementary School Community Council and a Red Cross Volunteer.

She worked more than 20 years in the hotel industry and served 10 years as the labor liaison for Aloha United Way on Maui. She continues to serve as the executive director for the Maui Rescue Mission, a nonprofit service organization to help our homeless.

The Statons are active in the AARP Hawaii Speakers Bureau, giving presentations on Medicare, Social Security, and fraud prevention as well as volunteering to support other events over the last five years.

Both are members of Haleakala Lions Club International where Lena served three terms as club president and two terms as Maui’s zone chair. They read to children in the Read Aloud Program (RAP) and Bill is a reader for Wailuku Elementary School.

Bill and Lena are active members of Kahului Baptist Church, where Bill serves as deacon, teacher, and in the weekly prison ministry while Lena was a children’s bible teacher and past Sunday school director. Each Christmas Day, Lena and Bill organize a choir group to sing carols for people in prison, nursing homes, and the hospital.

“The Statons lead by example and bring fun, energy, and intelligence to their volunteer work,” said AARP volunteer Mary Lee Bilyou, who nominated them. “Where they lead, others follow.”

“This award acts as a symbol to the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” says Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP State Director. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”

Recipients across the nation were chosen for their ability to enhance the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.