AARP Eye Center
Sheridan’s Judy Hayworth has been named the 2023 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award Winner. The award honors the state’s top volunteer over the age of 50.
Hayworth won the award through a vote on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page, and the AARP Wyoming email distribution list. In total, Hayworth received over 760 votes, beating her closest competition by over 400 votes.
“When I was told about the award, I was sort of overwhelmed, but in a good way,” says Hayworth. “I was humbled. No one does a volunteer job to get an award. When people appreciate what you do, it just makes you want to do more.”
Hayworth was nominated for the award by longtime AARP Wyoming volunteer and current volunteer president Stella Montano. She appreciated and lifted Hayworth’s work with CASA of Sheridan, The Sheridan Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, The Wyo Theater in Sheridan, and Sheridan’s senior center, The Hub on Smith.
“She is the busiest person you will ever meet, but if you needed something done, she would tell you she can do it,” Montano says. “She is so humble, you’d be blown away by what this ball of fire can get done.”
A Return Home Leads To A Volunteer Career
Hayworth is a Sheridan native and grew up under the name of Judy Workman. A 1963 graduate of Sheridan High School and former member of the Eager Beavers 4-H club (made up of kids from the Beaver Creek Road area), Workman spent two years at Sheridan College before transferring to Western Montana College of Education in 1965.
Hayworth was a teacher in Montana for 34 years, teaching fourth grade, fifth grade, Gifted and Talented Programs, and a transitional program for children between kindergarten and first grade. While teaching, she also volunteered as a scout and 4-H leader in Forsyth and Coal Strip, Montana.
She and her husband, Michael J. Hayworth, a former engineer, were married for 51 and one-half years. They retired within a day of each other in the summer of 2007 and moved back to Sheridan. Soon after, Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She said when she was finished with her treatments, she had a strong interest in giving back to the Sheridan County area. Almost immediately, she began working at Sheridan Memorial Hospital in the surgical waiting room and as a part of the Court Appointed Special Advocates. She later volunteered at The Sheridan Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, The Hub on Smith, and AARP’s Sheridan Community Action Team.
As a volunteer for CASA, Hayworth is assigned to work with children from the time they enter the legal system until they are, hopefully, reunited with their families. That means being a friend, a lunch partner, a sports fan and a source of strength.
“With those children, you help them through that situation they are in, any way you can,” Hayworth says. “I also quite often take lunch to school and have lunch with the children. I try to keep up with everything that is coming up with them. I attend things like their dance recitals or basketball games, or extracurricular things. I try to support them in that way.”
As a part of the Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Auxiliary, she helped decorate 18 Christmas trees located at the hospital, as well as medical clinics; helped with mailings for the hospital, such as Christmas cards; and helps plan the annual five year old birthday party. As a volunteer in the Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s surgical waiting room, she gets coffee, makes calls on behalf of the families at the hospitals, and even brings goodies.
“I love that job because I really feel like I am helping people,” Hayworth says. “It is such a hard time for many to have a loved one going into surgery. Sometimes, there are a lot of tears. If I can be their comfort and help them in some small way, I want to do that.”
After her husband, Michael, passed away in 2018, Judy went to Sheridan’s Senior Center, The Hub on Smith, and asked to volunteer. She has since been a familiar face in the dining room at least once a week, where she works the room, helping to get drinks, carry trays, and be a warm greeter for the patrons.
“I think social interaction is so important for seniors,” Judy says. “During the pandemic, we had to close down the Hub, and I really saw deterioration in folks. I think it is important to talk to every single person every single day you are there. We are made to interact with each other. I just love the friendships I have been able to make there.”
Carmen Rideout is the executive director for The Hub. She says Hayworth';s warm and friendly personality and beautiful smile brighten people's day.
"Her warm and friendly personality and beautiful smile brighten people's day," says Rideout. "The whole dining room erupted in cheers when we announced she was the recipient of this award. We are grateful she is a part of our lives. Thank you Judy for making our community a wonderful place to live."
Hayworth jokes that she decided to volunteer at the Wyo Theater in 2018 because she liked the shows and thought if she helped out, she could see the shows for free. Over the past five years, she has been an usher, a ticket taker, and a cleaner of the theater. Along the way, she has seen her first opera (she liked it) and has come to enjoy the familiar faces of the season ticket holders.
Hayworth has three children: Michael B. Hayworth, a judge in Miles City, Mont.; Matthew Hayworth, who translates instructions and owners manuals for luxury car companies and wind turbine manufacturers from German to English; and a daughter, Heidi of Billings, who is a nationwide trainer for Wells-Fargo.
For now, Hayworth plans to continue her volunteer work. Her bout with colon cancer and more haven’t slowed her down. She says she has a lot of energy and still enjoys volunteering it all keeps her very humble.
“As I processed it (the Andrus Award), I just felt like there are so many people who are such good volunteers, and I felt so singled out that I got to be the one they honored. “I loved it after I thought about it for a while.”
About AARP Wyoming’s Andrus Award 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.
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.
Veatch also serves on 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.
- 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.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.