AARP Arizona’s Strong Women Upholding Female Founder’s Mission

Posted on 03/22/24 by Dawn Alexander

During April and the celebration of Women’s History Month, it’s important to note that at the core of AARP’s foundation is the inspiring story of Ethel Percy Andrus. She was a pioneering woman whose mission to empower older adults and champion their rights created a legacy that extends far beyond her time. Ethel's unwavering passion continues to live on through dedicated women who serve and volunteer at AARP Arizona, spreading warmth, compassion, and hope.

This is evident in the noticeable transformation that has taken place within AARP Arizona, bridging what was once a noticeable gap in outreach into a beautiful connection of representation for all communities.

AARP Arizona’s Associate State Director of Community Outreach Brenda Holt led efforts to develop a plan for addressing diversity, equity and inclusion.

When Holt arrived more than 12 years ago, no one represented the African American community.

“When I stepped into the state [AARP] office, there were no outreach efforts directed towards African Americans. I immediately recognized that as a significant gap,” Holt said. “I approached the state director and expressed my concerns, and he agreed with me. I then ventured into the community and initiated African American outreach.”

One of the first things she noticed after going out to the community was the need to create a subgroup of African American volunteers, especially women, to bridge between the communities. As a result of her efforts, AARP Arizona built solid foundations within African American, Native American, and LGBTQ+ communities as well.

Holt knows volunteers are vital to carrying out Ethel Andrus’ mission “to serve, not to be served.” They are a crucial part of outreach to all audiences.

“Volunteers are needed because they bring experiences and they bring a fresh set of eyes as sometimes we don’t have,” Holt said. “I love the fact that they bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and information to us. So, we learn from them - it’s like an even exchange.”

Brenda Holt ASD for AARP Arizona State Office

Another strong female voice at AARP Arizona is Tanya Jackson, a lead volunteer with AARP Arizona for nine years. She embodies the heart and soul of Ethel's mission. Much like Ethel, she first began working with children and then returned to Arizona to be a caregiver for her mother. During this time, Tanya’s passion for helping adults ages 50 and over was ignited. She tirelessly works to provide AARP Arizona resources to the 50-plus community, not only to offer support but also to bring joy and introduce opportunities to enhance their lives.

“Even just for that moment, [it’s a] bright moment for us that are volunteering and trying to bring a little bit of more happiness to people's lives,” Jackson said.

AARP works with over 50,000 volunteers nationally on different programs to enhance Andrus’ mission. It continues to push support for diversity and inclusion to provide support, resources, and services to the community. AARP allows volunteers to engage and support diverse communities.

A significant aspect of the AARP Arizona volunteer community is the diversity present among its members, with over a third of them representing individuals from various ethnic backgrounds, including Hispanic/Latino, African American/Black, Native/Indian, and Asian American descent.

AARP Vice President of Volunteer Engagement Michelle Becote-Jackson emphasized the importance of recognizing the invaluable contributions led by AARP volunteers.

During the Experience Corp meeting, Becote-Jackson acknowledged the deep involvement of volunteers in the organization's work.

“They (AARP volunteers) know exactly what it takes to connect with the community, to excel with our work whether it be experiences or any other roles,” Becote-Jackson said. “Please value them as the gems that they truly are and the contributors to not only the social impact agenda but to our society at large.”

Jackson echoed this sentiment from a volunteer's perspective, expressing a commitment to reach people across diverse communities and foster unity in a shared world.

“We're trying to touch the hands of all people in all communities and bring [us] all together. So, let's make it positive for everyone,” Jackson said.

Whether your passion lies in educating youth to improve reading skills, assisting low-income taxpayers with tax preparation, educating older drivers on safety and public issues, or empowering the 50-plus community, AARP Arizona embodies Ethel Percy Andrus' mission of empowerment and advocacy for all. There is a place for you at AARP Arizona to make a difference and contribute to a better tomorrow.

Ethel.JPG

AARP volunteers are the truest followers of founder Ethel Percy Andrus' timeless mission for the organization.

Visit the website, and see how you can get involved as an AARP Arizona volunteer.

Explore the free AARP HomeFit Guide

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events

Photo of Memorial Day AARP Membership Sale.

Contact AARP
in Phoenix