CHEYENNE - AARP Wyoming has identified two finalists for the 2020 Andrus Award, the State’s premiere community service award for those age 50 and over. AARP Wyoming now asks the citizens of the Cowboy State to spread the word and help us select the winner.
This year’s Andrus Award nominees are Jennie Gordon of Cheyenne and Don Cushman of Thayne. Those interested in voting for their favorite are encouraged to go to AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page at: and like or share the video associated with one of or all of the three Andrus Award nominees. Voting will end on Oct. 15.
Jennie Gordon, First Lady of the State of Wyoming, was nominated by Laramie County resident Sharon Fain. In her nomination form, Fain lifted up Gordon’s work on The Wyoming Hunger Initiative, which created a framework to support existing non-profits who are working to eliminate hunger in Wyoming, and during COVID-19 developed a website that let citizens know of free food resources in each Wyoming County.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Initiative started a COVID-19 Task Force, before taking in private funds and turned those dollars into action. The Initiative allocated $50,000 for infrastructure grants to anti-hunger efforts in March, then another $40,000 per month from April through August to ensure every county received funding to replenish food pantries. The group then worked with Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies to financially support mobile food pantries that reached all 23 counties
“First Lady Gordon is a force and knew the success of the Wyoming Hunger Initiative would be based on a set of extraordinary volunteers and organizations across our great state,” Fain says. “She is a true leader and her mission to end hunger in the state of Wyoming has engaged new partners and supporters who share her vision.”
In addition to the work of the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, Gordon partnered with the Wyoming Department of Health’s Aging Division to solicit, collect, and distribute hand-written cards for the state’s older adults who were homebound. That drive resulted in around 6,000 cards.
To vote for Gordon to receive the 2020 Andrus Award for Wyoming, click here, then like or share the post.
Since the year 2007, Thayne’s Don Cushman has logged over 2,000 hours of service with Habitat for Humanity, bringing his own tools to the builds, and even checking in with homeowners who have already moved into their homes. According to Nick Staron, volunteer coordinator for Teton Habitat for Humanity, during the COVID-19 shutdown, Cushman spent time calling to encourage the staff of Habitat.
“Whenever there is a need he is the first to step up and readily takes on a challenge,” says Teton Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Coordinator Nick Staron. “He is also a constant advocate for our organization. He attends most of our outreach events, shares with his friends and becomes like family to our homeowners.”
To vote for Cushman to receive the 2020 Andrus Award for Wyoming, click here and then share or like the post. Voting will run through October 15.
About the Award
The Andrus Award, named after AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, recognizes individuals who are sharing their experience, talent, and skills to enrich their communities in ways that are consistent with AARP's mission, vision, and commitment to volunteer service.
Only one volunteer per state (or couple performing service together) can receive the award each year and the recipient must live in the awarding state. The award winner is required to be at least 50 years old, and the achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must reflect AARP's vision and mission. This is not a posthumous award.
- 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. Kay, age 95, remains 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.
For more information on the process, contact Tanya Johnson, AARP Wyoming’s Associate State Director for Outreach and Local Advocacy at 307-214-7965 or email@example.com.