By Curt Buckley
Fanchon Gerould of Houston is a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. But she doesn't stop there.
“I guess just to keep my mind and my hands moving,” says Fanchon, explaining why she finds time to fit a ceramics hobby into her schedule. “You get to meet people and make beautiful things, too.”
But pottery isn't the only thing that she spends her time building.
Fanchon became a member of AARP in the early 90s, gradually becoming more involved in the nonprofit’s work. She has become one of the most valued Houston-area AARP volunteers, acting as Houston community team leader for the past nine years in addition to having served as the president of multiple area chapters.
"She is the finest example of what [AARP's founder] Dr. Andrus was trying to convey and what service really means," says Elizabeth Haroun of AARP's Houston office.
"Fanchon walks the talk of leadership, displaying dedication, hard work and compassion.”
Fanchon has become well known for landing excellent speakers on the various topics discussed during meetings. How does she secure so many speakers from top local business and community leaders?
“Many, many professionals will come, if you ask,” reveals Fanchon. “That’s the secret, if you can even call it that. They won’t come if you don’t ask.”
On top of the responsibilities that come with a community team leader designation, Fanchon also recently became president of AARP’s Bellaire chapter, #1374. She accepted the new role to bolster local volunteer and service efforts, reviving AARP's presence in the community.
“You’re just trying to get new members, trying to do something different and exciting to get or keep them interested,” says Fanchon, explaining her outlook on increasing AARP presence and volunteer activity. “If you see a positive reaction in people, you know you’ve done something right.”
Fanchon has also helped locally lead the American Business Women’s Association, a group she's been a member of for more than 35 years, as well as volunteered the gift shop of a local hospital twice a week for more than 25 years.
Her continued involvement in all these groups is very intentional, she says.
“I joined these organizations to make new friends, gather relevant information, and better myself. Now, it only seems appropriate that I return the favor and help others the way I have been helped.”