AARP Eye Center
The time is now to vote for Wyoming’s top volunteer over the age of 50. Sandra Kovach of Cheyenne, Sheridan’s Judy Hayworth, and Scott Veatch of Casper have been named the finalists for the 2023 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award.
Voting may be done on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook (facebook.com/aarpwy) page by offering a like, share, or comment on the video of your favorite finalist.
About The Nominees
Sandra Kovach of Cheyenne has been part of Cheyenne’s AARP community team since 1986. A former treasurer of the Cheyenne afternoon community group, she helped organize meetings at the Laramie County Library, balanced the books, and sent in required reports to the AARP national office. More recently, Kovach has carved out a niche in helping to call community members to let them know when the group is meeting and connecting to members. Kovach even provides refreshments for community group meetings and is a constant presence at AARP events in Cheyenne, such as picnics, movies, and fraud prevention presentations.
Don Morris of Cheyenne nominated Sandra and stated in his nomination form, “Her input makes a person expand their thoughts to how they can include everyone, even the young!”
Judy Hayworth spends her time volunteering in several venues around Sheridan. Hayworth offers a kind and friendly face to those in the Surgical Waiting Room of Sheridan’s Memorial Hospital. Hayworth is a member of the hospital’s auxiliary where she does everything from decorating Christmas trees to helping the hospital foundation with mailings.
When not at the hospital, Hayworth is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer working with families. In her role, Hayworth is appointed by judges to act as an advocate in the best interest of children who are involved in court proceedings.
The Hub on Smith is Sheridan’s Senior Center, and Hayworth is a familiar face around the center, volunteering at mealtime, carrying trays, cleaning tables, or even serving water and coffee to patrons. Finally, Hayworth volunteers with the WYO Theater in Sheridan as an usher.
She supports AARP aging by providing input on how older people look at aging versus how a younger group of 50-plus look at things. Her input makes a person expand their thoughts to how they can include everyone, even the young!
“Judy is very balanced in all her volunteer work,” wrote Stella Montano, who nominated Hayworth. “Everyone she talks to feels like they are the most important person in the world. Judy has the ability to calm people. If you need help, ask Judy.”
Scott Veatch of Casper’s volunteer service came from personal hardship. After his wife, Mona, was diagnosed with dementia in 2007, Veatch decided to blog what would be his family’s 14-year battle with dementia. The blog, called, “I’m Going to Courage,” documented what it was to bear witness to Mona’s decline to the point where he decided he was unable to care for Mona on his own and had to find skilled nursing home care.
“Through it all, he wrote about love, and hope, bragging about his wife and vulnerably sharing their experiences with dementia,” wrote Crystal Morse, who nominated Veatch.
Morse met Veatch through Mountain-Pacific Quality Health’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, where he uses his personal and professional experience in health care to offer support and appreciation for healthcare professionals as well as the manner in which patients are cared for. Through his work on the Patient and Family Advisory Council, Veatch helped develop The #KindnessRX Campaign, which sought to provide hope and positivity to healthcare professionals during the pandemic. Veatch helped launch the campaign, develop its logo, and even appeared in the first two videos in which he thanked the director of environmental services, and a certified nursing assistant (CNA) from the facility in which his wife received care.
About the Andrus Award:
The annual Andrus Award for Community Service is AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award. It recognizes individuals who are sharing their experience, talent, and skills to enrich their communities in ways that are consistent with AARP’s purpose, vision, and commitment to volunteer service, and that inspire others to volunteer. Only one Wyoming volunteer (or couple performing service together) can receive the Award.
AARP Wyoming Andrus Award for Community Service nominees must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Nominee must be 50 years or older.
- The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must have been performed on a volunteer basis, without pay. Volunteers receiving small stipends to cover the costs associated with the volunteer activity are eligible.
- The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must reflect AARP’s vision and purpose.
- The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must be replicable and provide inspiration for others to volunteer.
- Partisan political achievements, accomplishments, or service may not be considered.
- Couples or partners who perform service together are also eligible; however, teams are not eligible.
- Previous Andrus Award recipients are not eligible.
- Volunteers serving on the Andrus Award selection committee are not eligible.
- AARP staff members are not eligible.
- This is not a posthumous award.
About the process for naming an Andrus Award Winner
Nominations were received by AARP Wyoming, and the winner will make it through three rounds of voting. In the first round, a five-member selection committee made up of AARP volunteers from around the state helped pair down the list of nominees to a group of finalists. In round two, an email was sent to AARP Wyoming’s email distribution list, letting members and volunteers know voting was live. On Thursday, Aug. 24, three videos teasing the accomplishments of the finalists were posted on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page. Each video was boosted in its local community, and the finalist whose video and email vote bring in the highest number of likes, comments, shares, and tallies in their favor will be named the winner.
- 2022 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award Winner Bernadette. “Bernie” Horst is a familiar face around Albany County, volunteering at The Albany County Library, The Wyoming Women’s Club; the Laramie Plains Museum, and Wyoming Women’s History Museum. Horst is perhaps best known for her work at the Eppson Center, where she remains active at the Eppson Center where she volunteers to update the grounds of the center by doing landscaping and decorating tables according to a monthly theme. For ten years, Horst has been a member of the Home Delivered Meals, delivering warm meals to those who are homebound or not able to cook for themselves. The University of Wyoming’s St. Paul Newman’s Center benefits from Horst’s efforts as she bakes snacks for students as they study for finals, contributes desserts for some Sunday night dinners St. Newman’s hosts for students.Horst also volunteers with the Laramie Women’s Club, The Wyoming Women’s History House, and PEO.
- In 2021, Torrington’s Paul Novak was named the AARP Wyoming Andrus Award winner for his better than 40 years on the Goshen Care Center Joint Powers Board of Directors. Since joining the Joint Powers Board, Novak has been a driving force in helping Torrington build a 24-unit Independent Living Facility; a skilled nursing home and dementia care unit with 75 rooms; and a 30-room assisted living facility, which opened in October of 2021. An extremely impressive array of care options and housing for older adults in a community of 6,700 residents.
- Don Cushman was the 2020 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award winner. After retiring 15 years ago, Cushman took a trip to Mississippi with the Presbytery of Wyoming to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. That experience led Cushman to make a commitment to work more consistently with Habitat for Humanity in Teton County. Cushman began driving the 55 miles each way, often twice a week (4,500 miles) to build sites in Teton County, which has culminated in its current effort, a five-year, six-building run. He has been named the Turnkey Award - given to the volunteer with the highest number of volunteer hours on a project - numerous times, and was named Habitat’s Lee Kuntz Volunteer of The Year Award winner for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2016.
- The 2019 Andrus Award winners, Karen and Walter Jones, spend their retirement years volunteering with the National Park Service in Grand Teton National Park. For four months out of the year, the Jones’ live in their camper and devote their time to ensuring that the visitors of the park have a fulfilling and educational visit. Their duties with the park include talks about bear
safety, animal information, and cultural history. They can be found answering questions at the desk or out on the hiking trails.
- When the rules committee was making up those rules, it almost seems they had 2018 Andrus Award Winner, Kay Bjorklund of Thermopolis, in mind. Well into her 90’s, Kay remained a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, welcoming new businesses to Thermopolis, as well as program director for her Kiwanis Club, lining up speakers for the club’s twice-monthly meetings. One week a month you can find Kay delivering Meals on Wheels to Thermopolis residents. Each weekend she is acting activities director for The Pioneer Home, where she lines up Wii Bowling tournaments and shuffleboard. Kay would also mention she carries a 231 average on Wii bowling. If that isn’t enough, she also volunteers one day a week in the gift shop of the hospital in Thermopolis, and works with the doorstep ministry of her church.
- Clayton and Gloria Jensen were honored as winners of the 2017 Andrus Award by AARP Wyoming. The Jensens are the coaches at the Casper Boxing Club in Casper where they have gained a reputation for changing the lives of at-risk young men and women. The mission of Casper Boxing Club is to promote sportsmanship, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and individuality through education, dedication, desire, and a commitment to maximize excellence. The program seeks to use the mind and body as a catalyst to bring about change, creating an environment to reach youth who others may have written off as unreachable.