AARP AARP States Community

North Country Woman Named Top AARP New York Volunteer of 2015

Andrus Award winner

Robin McNamara, of Madrid, NY received AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award for community service on Tuesday, October 20, 2015. McNamara, who volunteers for New Beginnings Food Outreach and Clothing, Inc., has been selected by AARP New York, the nonprofit organization for people 50 and older, to receive the 2015 New York AARP Andrus Award for Community Service.

AARP selected McNamara for her extraordinary service to the community through her work at New Beginnings, a non-profit which provides families and seniors with clothing, household items, and food through its thrift store and food pantry.  McNamara also serves on the New Beginnings board, where she helps to oversee the donation of money made at the Thrift Store to community projects and residents in need.

As part of her selection as the Andrus Award winner, McNamara will receive $3,000 to donate to the charity of her choice.  McNamara has decided to donate the money to New Beginnings to fund scholarships for high school students.

The award and $3,000 check will be presented to McNamara by AARP New York State President Leo Asen at a ceremony held at New Beginnings on Tuesday, October 20 at 11:00 am.  New Beginnings is located at 3605 County Route 14 in Madrid.

“The founders and all the faithful volunteers of New Beginnings Clothing and Food Outreach, Inc., the organization that I serve, are deserving of this award and our mission will be blessed by the monetary gift that comes with it,” said McNamara.

“I am proud to represent New Beginnings in my community, proud to serve with our faithful volunteers,” continued McNamara.  “It is a blessing to receive donations of food and clothing from people in different stages of their lives – children grown, spouses passed, weight lost, retirement begun – to celebrate or mourn with them.  It is an equal blessing to serve our neighbors in need – those with limited resources, victims of flood or fire, families who have come upon hard times – to share their journey with them.”

McNamara is a long-time volunteer at New Beginnings, and initially got involved when she shopped there for her family.  She eventually became a dedicated volunteer and was later asked to serve on the board of the organization to help raise money for a new building to house the thrift store and pantry.  At the time, it was housed in an old barn that was small, poorly lit, drafty, and damp, which often resulted in mold growing on donated items.  It was also not accessible to disabled persons and difficult for seniors to navigate.

McNamara helped with the fund-raising drive for the new building, leading to a new home for New Beginnings which is larger, safer and cleaner.  The new facility better serves the community and it provides a more comfortable environment for the many volunteers who are instrumental to the organization.

McNamara was selected from a pool of nominees from across New York State based on the criteria of 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.

“This award acts as a symbol to the public that we can all work together for positive social change, and Robin truly represents this,” says Leo Asen, State President for AARP in New York.  “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”

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