Bainbridge Island resident among those ages 50-plus honored for their work to tackle major societal challenges

Posted on 12/01/20

For Immediate Release
December 1, 2020

Contact: Jason Erskine / 206-517-9345

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AARP Announces 2021 Purpose Prize Award Winners
Bainbridge Island resident among those ages 50-plus honored for their work to tackle major societal challenges





WASHINGTON –AARP has announced its 2021 AARP Purpose Prize award recipients and fellows, the only national award that celebrates people 50-plus who are using their knowledge and life experience to solve tough social problems. These extraordinary Americans tap into the power of life experience to build a better future for us all, founding and leading initiatives from school-safety and violence-prevention efforts to an organization that helps people with disabilities acquire assistive technologies to improve the quality of their lives.  

Each AARP Purpose Prize winner will receive a $50,000 award for their organization. AARP also announced ten AARP Purpose Prize fellows, who will be honored for the mission-focused work of the organizations they lead and will receive a $5,000 award to further the mission of their organization.

Bainbridge Island resident Jerilyn Brusseau is among the 2021 Purpose Prize Fellows, honored for her work with PeaceTrees Vietnam. Brusseau co-founded PeaceTrees Vietnam in 1995 with her late husband, Danaan Parry, as the first international organization permitted to sponsor humanitarian demining efforts in Vietnam. The organization, headquartered in Seattle, WA and Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam, creates a safe and successful future for children and families endangered by the legacy of the Vietnam War.

"PeaceTrees Vietnam is deeply honored by AARP’s recognition of our twenty five years working alongside the people of Vietnam, to honor losses on all sides of war, to build strong bridges of trust and understanding, through sponsoring clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Vietnam’s most war torn province,” said Brusseau. “Every day for 25 years, PeaceTrees has worked in the most heavily bombed areas of Vietnam to safely clear thousands of deadly unexploded munitions remaining from war,  support accident survivors, restore communities, strengthen education and economic development, and build strong bonds of trust and friendship between American and Vietnamese veterans and families,” she said.

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“I commend this year’s AARP Purpose Prize winners and fellows for their dedication and commitment to serving people of all ages during these challenging times,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “These older adults inspire and show us how our own life experiences can be used to find creative and innovative solutions to help others and make a difference in communities across the country.”

“As a Gold Star sister of  Lt Daniel Cheney, US Army Helicopter pilot who was shot down and killed while saving the life of his fellow pilot in the Vietnam War,  it is my distinct honor to work with the Vietnamese people to ‘turn sorrow into service,’ transforming once adversarial relationships into trusted partners and allies and transforming the legacy of war into a future of safety, well-being, peace and collaboration for our children, grandchildren and generations to come,” said Brusseau.

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“We’re grateful to AARP for this extraordinary opportunity to engage with  an even broader coalition of Vietnam era veterans, veterans of all US military service, Gold Star families and individuals of all ages  who wish to participate in our mission of healing of ‘what once seemed impossible’ and creating a safe and brighter future for children and families of Central Vietnam,” said Brusseau. “With AARP’s  Purpose Prize leadership, we’re working together to write a new chapter in the year ahead, tapping into resources to strengthen and grow our organization, and to bring more visibility to our work here in the Pacific Northwest and across the US and around the world,” she said.

Alongside the Purpose Prize winners and fellows, AARP is presenting Golden Globe award-winning actor and activist Glenn Close with an honorary Purpose Prize Award for her work with Bring Change to Mind, a charity dedicated to confronting, head-on, the stigma associated with mental illness. The organization works to normalize mental health conversations and build the awareness, understanding and empathy necessary to inspire action, structural change, and the creation of new norms which will end stigma and discrimination. The idea for the organization came about following Close’s first-hand observation of battles with mental illness within her family.

The honorees will be recognized at a virtual awards celebration on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 from 4:00 – 5:00pm PT.  The public is invited to join the free virtual event.  Registration is required at aarp.org/purposeprize.  

The 2021 AARP Purpose Prize winners include:

  • Mark Barden – Newtown, Conn. – Sandy Hook Promise
    After his son, Daniel, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Barden co-founded Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that aims to prevent shootings, violence and other harmful acts to help keep schools and communities safe.
  • Cindy Eggleton – Pleasant Ridge, Mich. – Brilliant Detroit
    Eggleton co-founded Brilliant Detroit, an organization that builds family centers in high-need neighborhoods for families with children ages 0-8. Brilliant Detroit homes provide families with year-round support and the necessities to be school-ready, healthy and stable.
  • Hope Harley – Bronx, N.Y. – Bronx Children’s Museum
    Harley is president of the Bronx Children’s Museum, which seeks to inspire children, their families and caregivers to learn about themselves within the richness and diversity of their surroundings and beyond.
  • Arturo Noriega – Pacifica, Calif. – Centro Community Partners
    Noriega is the founder and CEO of Centro Community Partners, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurship education, access to capital and business advisory and mentorship to low-income minorities.
  • Susan Tachau – Bala Cynwyd, Pa. – Pennsylvania Assistive Technology
    Tachau is a co-founder and CEO of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, a nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians acquire the assistive technology devices and services they need.

This year’s AARP Purpose Prize fellows are:

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