AARP New Hampshire honored nearly 60 volunteers at a celebratory luncheon held Thursday, October 31 at the Manchester Country Club. The most prestigious volunteer award, the Andrus Award for Community Service, was presented to Katherine “Kaye” Heffernan, a dedicated AARP volunteer and community leader. Others honored were Andrus Award finalists; Driver Safety and Advocacy Volunteers of the Year; and Retired Educator of the Year.
The Andrus Award for Community Service, named after AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, recognizes outstanding AARP volunteers who are making a powerful difference in their communities in ways that are consistent with AARP’s mission, vision and strategic direction.
“We are thrilled to bestow upon Kaye Heffernan the most celebrated volunteer award given by AARP,” said AARP New Hampshire State Director Kelly Clark. “Kaye has spent an incredible amount of time and energy helping people and her community and is very deserving of this award.”
Kaye began her AARP volunteer career with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program. After six years of doing taxes, she became District Coordinator for the Nashua area. (Kay also admits she has a problem saying no!) So for 16 years, Kaye Heffernan served in this role, growing her Greater Nashua district to nearly 13 sites and over 90 volunteers. It was only last year she passed the district coordinator torch while still serving as a Tax-Aide volunteer.
“Kaye’s dedication to service is incredible,” said AARP New Hampshire State President Dick Chevrefils. “She is passionate about people and brings that passion, leadership, energy and commitment to her volunteer endeavors. It’s no wonder Kay Heffernan was chosen by a committee of her peers for AARP’s highest volunteer honor.”
AARP is just one of the many organizations that has benefited from Kaye’s volunteer service. Every Tuesday for 9 years, Kaye has delivered meals for St. Joseph Community Services’ Meals on Wheels program. She sings in the church choir and brings communion to bed-ridden residents at Greenbriar, a nursing and rehabilitation hospital in Nashua. “For 12 years, I’ve been a ‘constant’ in the lives of these people,” said Kaye. “You should see them light up when I enter the room. It’s a wonderful experience but I must admit I get back as much from this volunteer work as I give.”
Born in neighboring Massachusetts, Kaye graduated with a degree in mathematics from Northeastern University, taught high school math for one year, married her college sweetheart and started traveling the world.
It was while living in Germany that Kay got the volunteering bug. This military wife became the volunteer high school drama director and started the Red Cross Young Program, creating summer volunteer opportunities for youth in hospitals and clinics.
Kaye and her husband Pat live in Nashua. Their four children and five grandchildren gathered in August to celebrate Kaye and Pat’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Others honored at the premier volunteer recognition were:
• Andrus Award Finalists: Kenneth Therrien, Litchfield and Greta Barnes, Salem.
• Advocacy Volunteers of the Year: Sherri Harden and Claira Monier, both of Goffstown
• Driver Safety Volunteer of the Year: Charles “Allen” Gable, Laconia
• Retired Educator of the Year: Marcia Walenta, Rye