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AARP AARP States Virginia Volunteering

Volunteer Spotlight: Mattie Lawrence Johnson

Mattie Lawrence Johnson - AARP Photograph, July 2023.jpg

Mattie Lawrence Johnson worked hard as a property manager for more than 20 years, and when she retired five years ago, she never slowed down. Her zest for service makes her one of the busiest volunteers in Southeast Virginia, boosting the programs of at least five organizations.

The Chesapeake resident currently volunteers as the coordinator of the Speakers Bureau for AARP Virginia's Southeast region. Given her dedication to helping others, it is not surprising that during her tenure, AARP presentations in the region increased from five to 10 presentations a year to approximately 41 so far this year.

Her sister Olivia Dabney, an AARP community ambassador, helped persuade Mattie to join her by volunteering at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach. Once or twice a week, she has the sensitive task of checking in surgery patients, and then assisting and comforting their anxious family members.

Mattie also started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia after she retired. She recalled that before her father died of the disease, the family’s experience was even more difficult because they had so few resources. At the Chesapeake Lifestyle Center, she talks with family members about what they’re going through and makes sure they know about available resources.

Where does Mattie get her drive to serve? She cited her father’s advice to always be kind to others, and said she’s happiest giving back to others and doing positive things that put smiles on faces.

“Volunteering is enlightening,” she explained. “It will give you a sense of joy and happiness that you will feel for the rest of your life. Volunteering brings inspiration to your life.”

Her willingness to go beyond the requirements of a job was evident during her years as a property manager. When families in her residential properties needed items that they could not afford, Mattie helped them find the necessary items or services.

Besides her work on the Speaker’s Bureau, Mattie assists with other AARP events such as grandparent get-togethers, luncheons, and programs for boys at Brandon Middle School in Virginia Beach. She serves on the AARP advocacy board and as the president of the Princess Anne Chapter.

Mattie also works with the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and serves as an elections officer for the City of Chesapeake. She is a loving caregiver for her husband Ralph Johnson.

In 2021, Mattie Lawrence Johnson was selected to receive the AARP Virginia Andrus Award for Community Service, the association’s most prestigious and visible state volunteer award for community service.

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