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AARP AARP States Nebraska Press

Jerry Marlatt of Kearney Earns AARP Nebraska’s Highest Volunteer Award for Community Service

Jerry Marlatt
katie autry photography/katie autry photography

Jerry Marlatt of Kearney is the 2023 recipient of AARP Nebraska’s most prestigious volunteer award to people age 50 and over.

The AARP Andrus Award for Community Service recognizes Marlatt for his extraordinary record of service and the lasting impact he has made on the lives of others in his community.

The award comes with a $2,500 donation from AARP Nebraska to the Kearney Area Habitat for Humanity affiliate, on behalf of Marlatt, who designated the nonprofit as his charity of choice.

Patrick Waltemath, president of the board of directors for the Kearney Area Habitat for Humanity, nominated Marlatt for the award. He noted that Marlatt had a pivotal role in founding the affiliate in 1992, serving as its building supervisor from 1992 to the present. Over this period, Marlatt has supervised the building of three houses per year for a total of 97 houses in Kearney to date. He also has been one of the major donors to the affiliate from the beginning and serves on the board.

In his nomination, Waltemath summed up how Marlatt’s decades of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity have demonstrably improved the lives of Kearney residents.

“By leading groups to build simple, decent houses for those in need, Jerry has helped families live in safe neighborhoods, in energy efficient houses with fenced lawns for their children and pets as well as helping them achieve the family dream of home ownership,” he said.

In addition, Marlatt has inspired others to volunteer on Habitat projects and built many partnerships in the community, including with professional and church groups along with the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Kearney High School students.

“He has set the bar really high in terms of civic engagement. At his age of 90, Jerry is actively working on site, encouraging others in their work and showing them that by keeping active and helping others to attain their dreams, the whole community benefits. He is always working to encourage others to come join the work,” Waltemath said.

Marlatt also finds time to volunteer in various capacities at his church and the church’s food pantry, and volunteered his skills to create the Blacksmith’s Shop at the historical, hands-on Buffalo County Trails and Rails Museum.

The award ceremony will be held in Kearney Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. on the corner of Avenue P and 17th St., where a Habitat home is under construction.

“We are honored to bestow upon Jerry Marlatt the most celebrated award given by AARP,” said Suzan DeCamp, volunteer state president of AARP Nebraska. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve. Through his remarkable record of service, Jerry demonstrates what it means to make a difference in the lives of others.”

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.

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