AARP Wyoming is asking the public for help in honoring Wyoming’s top volunteer over the age of 50. The nominees are Bernie Horst of Laramie, Wayne Schatz of Sheridan, and Ed Strader from Cheyenne.
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.
“I am so impressed with this group of finalists,” says Sam Shumway, AARP State Director. “There can be little doubt that Ed, Bernie, and Wayne have tremendous impact in their communities and their state. It feels great to be able to honor them.”
AARP Wyoming has received several nominations for the Andrus Award and has whittled an impressive list of nominees down to three finalists. For the last three years, AARP Wyoming has named three finalists for the state award, then asked the public to vote for their favorites finalist by “liking,” and “sharing,” a video of their favorite nominee posted on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page. The voting will start on Oct. 4 and run through Oct. 7 with a winner named during AARP Wyoming’s Volunteer Banquet in Casper on Oct. 14. AARP Wyoming will make a $500 donation to a non-profit in the name of the person who nominated the Andrus Award winner.
Sheridan’s Wayne Schatz is no stranger to volunteering for AARP, or various other groups in Sheridan County. The long-time Sheridan-area educator spent six years on the AARP Wyoming Executive Council and is a key member of the Sheridan Community Action Team. He was nominated for the Andrus Award by Stella Montano, one of the leaders of the Sheridan Community Action Team.
According to Montano, Schatz has coordinated numerous AARP activities in the last few years, including the group’s Movies for Grown-ups series, which seeks to root out social isolation; the Souper Bowl food drive in Sheridan County; and local Shred Fests, which are designed to fight fraud by shredding old paper that may contain personal information. Schatz also supported the Sheridan Veterans Golf Tournament; the group’s Third Thursday events; the Annual Christmas Stroll in Sheridan, an Emergency Preparedness Workshop, and much more.
When not volunteering through AARP, Schatz gives his time as a Board Member of the Sheridan County School District 2, where he has served the last 10 years. A former educator in the school district, Schatz has served as Executive Director of the Wyoming Retired Educators Association, and has had some role in the group for the last 35 years. Wayne has acted as a Boy Scoutmaster and leader for 20 years, a commissioner in the Greater Wyoming Council of Boy Scouts, and is a Northeast Wyoming Youth Church leader. Schatz also visits residents at the Sheridan County Hospice. Finally, Schatz volunteers in a number of capacities at the Wyo Theater.
For the last nine years Ed Strader of Cheyenne has spent up to four mornings a week picking up donated bread and delivering it to local homeless shelters and food pantries in town. Each morning, Stader drives to a bread warehouse on the City’s east side where he picks up the bread that drivers for the local distributor bring back.
From there, Strader loads his truck with 20 to 30 cases of bread (up to 350 loaves a day) and starts a route that includes Meals on Wheels, St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, COMEA House homeless shelter, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Salvation Army and other agencies that serve those in need. The bread is then distributed at no cost to the public. Strader has been doing this for the last nine years and delivers the bread at his own expense.
Stader, who was nominated by Don Morris of Cheyenne, is also an active member of AARP Wyoming’s Cheyenne Community Group, which meets monthly to listen to presentations on community events and organizations, as well as sponsor events. Strader has been a long-time volunteer with that group as well.
Bernadette. “Bernie” Horst is a familiar face around Albany County, volunteering at the Eppson Center for Seniors, 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 has served on the board of directors for six years. Since leaving the board, Horst remains active at the Eppson Center where she volunteers to update the grounds of the center by doing landscaping tasks such as mowing grass, trimming bushes and watering flowers that rotate by the season. Each month, Horst decorates the centers of tables in the Eppson Center Dining Room with novelties according to a monthly theme. For ten years, Horst has been a member of the Home Delivered Meals, a program of the Eppson Center. In the HDM program, volunteers deliver 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 and as a member of the Martha and Mary women's group and their events.
As a member of the Laramie Women’s Club, she volunteers for the LWC activities that fundraise to earn money for nonprofits in the city of Laramie.
In her PEO Chapter, Horst is part of a committee that writes applications for students who are in need of financial support to continue their education.
That isn’t the end of Horst’s work in the community. She also volunteers at the Albany County Library by being a member of the Friends of the Library. She organizes donated used books and periodicals for sale to library patrons in a section of the library called the Book Nook. Money earned from the sale of donated books goes directly to the library for needed supplies. If needed Horst helps with the distribution of used books to a free clinic and Albany County public health office.
Once a week, Horst is a docent at the Wyoming Women’s History House offering presentations on when and how women in Wyoming gained the right to vote. She is also a member of Board of Directors of the Laramie Plains Museum which oversees the management of the Ivinson Home and its various departments and employees.
About the Andrus Award
AARP’s commitment to volunteer service can be traced back to our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, whose motto “to serve, not to be served” has shaped our community service efforts at the national, state, and local levels. Each year, AARP honors the legacy of Dr. Andrus with the AARP Wyoming Andrus Award for Community Service
Nominees for the Award must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Nominees 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 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 serve.
- Partisan political achievements, accomplishments or service may not be considered.
- Couples or partners who perform service together are eligible; however, teams are not eligible.
- The recipient must live in Wyoming.
- 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.
Recipient Selection Process
AARP Wyoming convenes a Selection Committee to ensure diverse perspectives and to review all nominations. For the last three years, AARP Wyoming has named two or three finalists for the state award, then asked the public to vote for their favorite finalist by “liking,” and “sharing,” a video of each is posted on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page. The inclusion of community-level AARP volunteers as well as community organizations is encouraged. While the AARP National Office provides guidance for the Andrus Award for Community Service, the selection of the recipient is at the sole discretion of AARP Wyoming.
- 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.