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AARP AARP States North Carolina Volunteering

An unlikely friendship -- the benefits of volunteering

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AARP NC Mountain Region volunteers Andy Nazworth and Gretchen Batra.

People volunteer with AARP for all kinds of reasons, including the chance to meet new people who share similar values. But what happens when two people of wildly different ages, backgrounds, and interests begin presenting together? Gretchen Batra and Andy Nazworth can tell you: an unlikely friendship that works beautifully.

Gretchen and Andy are two, “Wise Friends and Fierce Defenders” for the Mountain Region’s 50+ people in the constant fight against fraud and scams.

When Gretchen, an AARP volunteer for over 22 years, and Andy, a newly minted volunteer, first got together, their plan was to give presentations about preventing fraud. This was in 2021, when due to COVID, AARP was holding all events virtually.

In theory, longtime volunteer Gretchen would train Andy, the newbie volunteer, on how to present on fraud. In reality, Andy already had extensive past experience fighting fraud from his years working for the FBI, so the training became a lovely collaboration rather than a teacher and student scenario.

What’s more, they became friends. Gretchen is 80-something, Andy is 61. Andy is a full-time employee at the Black Mountain YMCA as a Program Director; Gretchen is retired. Gretchen is a passionate quilter; Andy is a passionate marathoner. They are very different people in many ways.

“Andy and I are definitely on different wavelengths,” laughs Gretchen. "But maybe that’s why we work so well together. And don’t forget, he’s almost young enough to be my kid!” (One commonality: Andy’s wife happens to also be a quilter.)

“I have the utmost respect for Gretchen and the skills and dedication she brings to our shared mission,” adds Andy. “Sure, I sometimes use stories from my FBI days in our events, and people are intrigued when they find that out about me, but Gretchen is the one who keeps us on task and on time. She always makes sure the audience leaves with a better understanding of the magnitude of the fraud problem, especially for our 50+ age group.”

How might your skills and passions mesh with other volunteers in our region? Start exploring the possibilities by contacting Rebecca Chaplin, our Associate State Director, at 828-380-6242 or

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