By Ashley Aitken
I began with AARP as an intern nearly three years ago under a time commitment of three months. Those three months turned into one year. During my internship I worked on the You’ve Earned A Say campaign. At the time, I had no idea what that particular campaign was about, but it ended up being a perfect fit. The premise of the campaign was to generate discussion with different communities throughout Oregon about Social Security and Medicare. I coordinated and organized community speaking engagements for AARP volunteers to speak with local civic groups. This is where my passion for community outreach and an appreciation for volunteers developed. I thoroughly enjoyed working with our volunteers, and meeting and connecting with our members who are impacted by the work AARP achieves during my first year with AARP.
Once my internship ended, I decided to stay with AARP because of its strong presence in the local community, its dedication to helping others, and its strong belief in volunteerism. I learned a great deal during my first year with AARP including how partnerships are created with others on various community initiatives, and how AARP is able to successfully collaborate with the community and legislators to move their agenda forward. I was (and still am) impressed at the amount of work we are able to accomplish with only 5 paid staff in our office. However, I must confess that the majority of our work is accomplished with the help from our (roughly) 150 volunteers statewide.
As the Senior Operations Associate for AARP Oregon, my primary role is to coordinate our operations including managing our financial budget, coordinating member emails and mailings, and working with our volunteers. I must say our volunteers are incredible. They are passionate, dedicated, and the heart and backbone of what we do here in Oregon. We truly are spoiled with our fantastic group of volunteers.
I did not anticipate that AARP would align so directly with my future career direction, and that my values would align so closely with AARP’s. Having grown up with my grandparents, I was no stranger to the various issues for which AARP advocates; and have always had a passion for the retirement security and caregiving arenas. The work I have done with my team here in Oregon reinforces values important to me including working with others to achieve a common goal, and being part of a team that works collaboratively on behalf of others. I feel fortunate to work with a supportive and engaging organization. Now that I have been with AARP for nearly three years, I can say with certainty that I chose the perfect organization for which to work!