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Kaye Heffernan Named AARP Volunteer of the Year

Kaye Heffernan photo #2

Born in neighboring Massachusetts, this year’s 2013 Andrus Award winner 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 Katherine “Kaye” Heffernan got the “volunteering” bug.  This military wife became the volunteer high school drama director (which eventually turned into a paid position) and started the Red Cross Youth Program, creating summer volunteer opportunities for youth in hospitals and clinics.

She never just dabbled in this volunteer work, she led.  “It was a combination of my leadership abilities and the fact that I just couldn’t say no when asked to take on a project,” admits Kaye.  Oh, and in addition to all the volunteer work, she was a substitute teacher, and juggled the needs of three children.

When Kaye’s husband Pat retired from the Army, he took a job in Massachusetts and they moved to Nashua.  Right when she was gearing up to go back to work full-time, there was a little surprise.  That surprise is now 29 years old!

“My three older children talked me out of the idea of working full-time with a little one at home,” said Kaye.  “But that decision gave me time to volunteer and give back to my community.” 

An AARP Bulletin story looking for Tax-Aide volunteers caught her eye and she started volunteering at the Nashua Senior Center, right around the corner from her son’s daycare.  After six years doing taxes, she was approached to become District Coordinator.  Remember she admitted to a propensity for saying yes?

So, for 16 years, Kaye Heffernan was in this position, growing her district to nearly 13 sites and over 90 volunteers.  It was only last year she passed the District Coordinator torch while still doing taxes.

But that’s not all of her giving-back activities.  Every Tuesday for 9 years, Kaye has delivered meals for St. Joseph Community Services’ Meals on Wheels program.  “I definitely get as much back from this volunteer work as I give.”  She also 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.  You should see them light up when I enter the room.  It’s a wonderful experience.”

It’s no wonder Kaye Heffernan was chosen by a committee of her peers for AARP’s highest volunteer honor, the Andrus Award for Community Service.

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