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AARP AARP States South Dakota Volunteering

AARP South Dakota Recognizes Volunteer Leaders at Annual Event

A group of 40 men and women in red AARP South Dakota t-shirts smiling at the camera.

AARP South Dakota hosted volunteers from across the state in Chamberlain earlier this month for their annual Volunteer Summit with its nature-inspired theme of “Volunteering is Always in Season.”

At the Summit, volunteers learned that just as South Dakota’s seasons have their own unique identity but still complement one another, the same is true for volunteers as they bring individual skills to the community work they do. They also had an opportunity to celebrate successful advocacy efforts and events so far in 2023, and to look ahead at important issues on the horizon for 2024.

A highlight of the annual summit is the presentation of special volunteer awards. Before the presentation, however, the state staff expressed their appreciation to the more than 40 volunteers attending for their 270 collective years of volunteer service with AARP South Dakota.


Andrus Award
The Andrus Award for Community Service is a prestigious honor that each AARP state office presents annually to an outstanding volunteer. It is named for AARP’s Founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who knew that a life fulfilled was a life dedicated to service. The award celebrates individuals who generously share their experiences, talents, and skills to enrich the lives of others and to improve their community.

Gerri Larson of Rapid City received the 2023 South Dakota Andrus Award. She was honored for her active involvement in local and statewide activities, as well as for her leadership as Executive Director of the South Dakota Retired School Personnel (SDRSP), the education community of AARP.

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“Gerri is passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to make connections,” said Erik Gaikowski, AARP South Dakota state director. “She has stepped up to lead local activities, she is part of state advocacy efforts, and she bridges organizations to help AARP South Dakota maintain strong partnerships. She is also a tireless advocate for education and for our state’s educators.”


Community Leadership Award
Bill and Cathy Zubke of Watertown were the 2023 Community Leadership Award recipients, recognizing their efforts to engage a broad audience in the mission and priorities of AARP South Dakota. The Zubkes were recognized for the dedication and enthusiasm they bring to volunteer efforts and for being sought-after presenters on topics such as fraud and brain health.

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Media Amplifier Award
The 2023 Media Amplifier Award went to the Aberdeen Community Volunteer Team. Over the past few years, this team came together to organize local events and engage with new partners in their community. They enthusiastically introduce AARP South Dakota to new audiences, helping the organization build and sustain its reputation as a trusted resource on issues important to the 50-plus.

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In addition to the three AARP volunteer leadership awards, the staff also recognized Kay "Boots" Johnson of Pierre, who is retiring after a decade of service as the Secretary of the South Dakota State Senate, a role that is integral to the proceedings of that legislative chamber.

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While we present only one Andrus Award in the state, every one of our volunteers embodies the spirit of AARP’s founder as they spark change and improve their communities one act at a time. Our state office loves to bring our volunteers together at our annual summit and to take a little time to say ‘thank you’ for sharing their time and talents.
Erik Gaikowski, AARP SD State Director