Jackie Knapp of Kalamazoo is a committed volunteer activist who helps feed the hungry, raises money for veterans’ programs, and teaches Sunday school at her church. Now she is the 2014 winner of the Andrus Award for Community Service, AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award.
Tagged a "super volunteer" by nominators, Knapp will be honored on Nov. 1 during AARP Michigan’s volunteer recognition ceremony in Grand Rapids.
The AARP Andrus Award for Community Service recognizes members and volunteers who are significantly enhancing the lives of individuals age 50 and over. The award was named for Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired educator from California who founded AARP in 1958.
“Jackie’s life mission is to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry or feels alone, especially children, seniors and veterans,” said Sheri Ritchie, volunteer coordinator for the Comstock Community Center, who nominated Knapp for the award. “Jackie embodies the vision of AARP that everyone in our society ages with dignity and purpose. She inspires the rest of us not only by her volunteer work, but by her own example.”
Knapp helps coordinate a holiday food basket program at the Comstock Community Center. She also teaches a ceramics class for seniors.
She has been a member of the VFW Auxiliary (VFWA) 6252 for nearly 35 years and helps raise money for the VFW National Home for Children and VFW Camp. As the activities chair for VFWA, she organizes at least two special events per month for veterans. She has been a volunteer at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Battle Creek for nearly 35 years.
“I am proud to have Jackie as a part of my team assisting with valuable programs to improve the quality of life of the veterans who are entrusted to our care,” said Scott Ferguson, a supervisor at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek.
As a member of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, Knapp volunteers in arts programs at the VA that benefit veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
At the Lutheran Church of the Savior, she teachers Sunday school, assists with pastoral duties, organizes fellowship activities and raises funds for church programs. She cooks and serves a meal once a month for adults with Alzheimer’s or who have physical limitations. She also volunteers at Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at Sunnyside Methodist Church and recently began serving on the Board of Directors of River Manor Senior Housing, a facility for low-income seniors in Galesburg.
Thomas Kimble, AARP Michigan President, commented:
“AARP Michigan takes great pride in congratulating Jackie Knapp for her tireless community service. Her unmatched record of achievement, service and commitment as a volunteer provides an extraordinary example of the difference volunteerism can make in the lives of individuals and in the well-being and vitality of a community.”