AARP Arizona’s Community Education Program equips members and the community with vital information and resources

Posted on 05/01/24 by Dawn Alexander

AARP Arizona's Community Education Program covers essential topics such as fraud prevention, social security, medicare and more to inform the 50-plus community. This program guided by passionate AARP Arizona volunteers has continued to evolve and impact the community.

The Community Education Program began 12 years ago to focus on providing crucial information about the Fraud Watch Network, Social Security, and Medicare for AARP Arizona members.

Over the years, the program has grown to include more topics and resources throughout the valley.

Bonnie Jackson, the Arizona Community Education Program Coordinator for AARP Arizona, has overseen the growth of the program and its resources since it started.

“Since then, we have expanded our scope to include additional crucial topics such as finances for those 50 and older.” Bonnie said. “Our commitment to educating and empowering the 50-plus community continues to grow as we adapt to meet their ever-changing needs.”

Jerry Watterworth, a volunteer with AARP Arizona, pointed out that the program's growth substantially impacts individuals in this community, and resonates not only with AARP Arizona members, but also with anyone wanting to learn more.

“We currently address six topics, with the Fraud Watch Network being the most popular due to its universal relevance. Fraud affects everyone regularly, making it a widely appreciated topic within our program,” Watterworth said.

Watterworth elaborated that the Fraud Watch Network stands out as a particularly valued topic among participants because it offers a range of resources to educate individuals with the tools to identify and prevent fraud.

The information is compiled into a presentation to arm individuals with the necessary tips to steer clear of falling victim to deceptive schemes.

Jackson mentioned that The Fraud Watch Network hosts a podcast called the Perfect Scam featuring personal stories of individuals affected by fraud. These valuable insights can help listeners safeguard themselves in the future.

There is also an AARP helpline for reporting scams. This resource is not limited to the 50-plus community; it is accessible to anyone who has encountered fraud.

The Community Education Program tackles the complexity of the enrollment process and accessing specific benefits.

“Medicare is likely the second most popular topic because enrollment is an annual occurrence. For those new to Medicare, there are countless questions that need addressing,” Bonnie said.

AARP Arizona also offers educational presentations on caregiving and financial management and regularly introduces new topics related to retirement planning.

These programs highlight the importance of preparedness in critical situations. AARP Arizona believes that by becoming familiar with the necessary steps, individuals can react effectively.

The Community Education Program is backed by dedicated volunteers who craft presentations, visit various locations and engage with communities.

Volunteers for AARP Arizona frequently receive requests from various community organizations such as libraries, homeowner associations and church groups seeking presenters on specific topics of interest.

“Volunteers…go out and give the presentations, answer the questions and provide the information to the community,” Watterworth said.

Gary Snyder, a dedicated AARP Arizona member for 29 years, embarked on his volunteer journey five years ago.

After relocating from Illinois to Arizona, he was surprised to receive a $75,000 check It didn't take long for him to realize that this unexpected windfall might be too good to be true - a scam in the making.

Snyder recognizes the prevalence of fraud and scams in everyday life and he is eager to assist individuals by raising awareness and letting them know they are not alone in facing such challenges.

“I think the best part of volunteering is helping people stay safe,” Snyder said.

AARP Arizona encourages everyone to consider volunteering for the Community Education program. To volunteer, contact aarpaz@aarp.org.

“All they have to do is send an email to AARP Arizona at aarpaz@aarp.org. Contact your local AARP office. They'll be happy to help you,” Watterworth said.

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