By Lesley Johnson
It all started with a breakfast meeting sponsored by AARP in 2014. After a conversation with staff member Bandana Shrestha, Rebecca (Becki) Hayes jumped in as a volunteer, excited to further AARP’s vision of helping people choose how they live as they age.
She started by helping out on the state office administrative team and helping volunteers learn an online tool where they could find resources, briefings and turn in expenses. Then Covid hit. The entire focus of AARP Oregon shifted from primarily in-person events to virtual events. The only trouble was, volunteers and staff alike had very little experience running a conference on Zoom. Becki stepped up.
It turns out, she had a deep understanding of many technology systems and was eager to dig into Zoom to learn all of its bells and whistles. Becki holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from Linfield University, leading to a career in the Information technology industry as a certified Project Manager. After 20 years with Daimler Trucks North America, Becki took early retirement and became an independent technology and software consultant.
With Becki’s help, AARP Oregon was able to offer statewide Zoom events. “Becki works so hard to teach and support the tech end of things, and there is so much to learn; it’s always changing and she really tries to keep on top of things,” said fellow volunteer Bonnie Martin. Becki not only took on the “back-end” of virtual events, but she also taught others how to use Zoom efficiently and effectively, broadening the knowledge to any volunteer who wanted to learn.
“Becki’s dedication is a wonderful quality, always taking her time to help with technical issues, always willing to pitch in,” said volunteer Bill Hamilton. Another volunteer agreed: “(Becki) is down to earth, has a sense of humor and goes out of her way to help anyone who need one-on-one assistance. She is dedicated to helping everyone toward being their best,” said Richard Hunter.
As a driving force providing the technical support for rolling out of countless AARP virtual conferences, webinars, classes and more – she became the “go to” technical support/advice volunteer for AARP Oregon events around the state. Becki was also a key leader in the development of the Virtual Event Team and of the redesigned AARP Oregon Speaker Bureau, specifically recruiting and training individuals to serve as technical support for the virtual speaking presentations being developed and scheduled. The volunteer leader for the Speaker Bureau, Suzanne Knight said, “Becky is the backbone and unsung hero of AARP Oregon.”
However, running virtual meetings isn’t the only contribution Becki has made. When the opportunity came up to participate as a liaison between the City of Milwaukie and AARP where Becki lived at the time, she says, “I was one of the first to raise my hand.” She was appointed by Milwaukie’s Mayor Gamba to the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee and to assist with developing Milwaukie’s Vision statement, then a re-write/update of Milwaukie’s Comprehensive Plan, including updating their Climate Action Plan. Becki served several years before purchasing a condo and relocating to Woodburn. She joined the newly formed AARP Salem Community Action Team, and in 2019 she was appointed by Woodburn’s Mayor Swenson to the Community Center Advisory Committee. Retired from receiving a paycheck, but certainly not retired from working!
I know first-hand that AARP counts their volunteers as invaluable, and that volunteer leaders such as the likes of Becki Hayes are counted as even more priceless. Well done, and many thanks to a true Volunteer Warrior!
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands - one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Audrey Hepburn
Lesley Johnson AARP Oregon Volunteer
Volunteer Helps AARP Oregon Shine with Virtual Offerings in Oregon
By Lesley Johnson