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Chapter President Inducted into AARP New Mexico Hall of Fame

Posted on 01/22/19 by Beth Velasquez, AARP New Mexico

Dave Lynch, AARP Las Cruces Chapter President, believes that AARP has a vital role to play in the community and has a wide range of resources that can really help people in their day to day lives – and that it’s his mission to connect those things.

Lynch, who also serves on the AARP New Mexico Executive Council, an advisory board to the AARP state office, was inducted into the AARP New Mexico Hall of Fame, late last year, for his work in the Las Cruces area. The Hall of Fame honors people whose work has created a lasting impact.

“Dave’s passion for issues and dedication to serving his community in a positive way makes him a model for AARP volunteerism,” said Jackie Cooper, former AARP New Mexico State President. “He is alert to what AARP can do to help in the community and while his approach is analytical, he is very creative in finding ways to engage with people. Dave’s inclusive leadership style helps the chapter continue to grow and expand and be more recognized in the community.”

“Dave’s work has raised AARP’s visibility not only in Las Cruces but at the state level, representing Las Cruces when working on AARP’s many legislative issues. Our southern region has a voice and a seat at the table when policies are being considered,” Cooper said.

“It may seem like some of the work being done are light touches, information tables and presentations, but Dave’s passion to bring people resources that can really help make their lives easier, shines through and touches people and that is very meaningful. I certainly believe that his work is worthy of the Hall of Fame, creating a standard for future volunteers,” she said.

When Lynch was informed of his Hall of Fame induction, he was amazed — thinking his work would never rise to that level. He even told the local board that he didn’t think any of their members met the eligibility requirements. But Chapter Member Irene Lewis and his wife, Nelly Lynch thought differently.

“It was a very big surprise and I am so appreciative. I didn’t really think I would ever have the opportunity to be part of something like that,” he said.

Dave and Nelly moved to Las Cruces in 2010, and quickly became AARP volunteers working with the local chapter.

“This is all Louis Sarabia’s fault,” Lynch said with a laugh, speaking about then AARP State President Louis Sarabia, who also lives in Las Cruces.  “We’ve always volunteered for something – the Cancer Society, St. Jude. We’ve always felt the need to volunteer and give back. We were impressed with the work the AARP Chapter was doing for the community.”

Lynch met Sarabia, who was staffing a table at the annual Mariachi Concert being held on the Mesilla Plaza. It didn’t take Sarabia long to see a good opportunity in the Lynches and in no time invited them to be on the Chapter’s board.

“Through Walter Baker (then chapter president) and Louis Sarabia, we trusted a lot of what AARP was trying to do. I later learned about the advocacy work AARP does at the state and national level. It just seemed like a good fit,” Lynch said.

In January of 2015, Lynch was chosen by the board to be the new chapter president, Nelly Lynch serving as treasurer. Since then he has been on a mission to ensure that people take advantage of all the resources AARP has, not to promote the organization but because he is passionate about helping people and making his community a great place to live. In his spare time, he also serves as an AARP Driver Safety Instructor.

But don’t think for one minute the group or the work they do is just for older people.

“A lot of the issues we work on transcend age and impact several generations of people. We tell people we’re working on caregiving – our caregiver mixers are designed to give caregivers of all ages a break – and work and save, which is about creating a secure retirement, is really targeting people in the workforce, the younger the better.  I think those issues trickle down to people that are under 50,” Lynch said.

“We have so much going on. Mid-year last year, we put together a speaker’s bureau and Patrick Gillespie, one of our volunteers, has been going all over doing presentation at senior centers, Good Samaritan, Temple Beth El,” Lynch said.

The Chapter also sets up information tables – -sharing resources on all kinds of topics such as family caregiving, fraud prevention, the basics of Medicare, among others – at the Farmer’s Market, Senior Circle, the Renaissance Fair, and has created a partnership with the local Natural Grocers.

They participate in community events like Toss No Mass, conduct an annual document shredding event and partner with local high school students to conduct technology workshops showing older adults how to use their smart-phones and tablets.

Under Lynch’s leadership the Chapter is also participating more in advocacy/lobbying activities visiting with local lawmakers to share AARP’s priorities on things like retirement security and caregiving resources as well as Livable Communities, an AARP effort to make sure people can age in place, and weighing in on transportation issues.

One of their favorite projects is working with special education students at Hermosa Heights Elementary School to do art projects once a month.

And while they enjoy the work, they somehow find time to have some fun too – -going on field trips to local sites and the occasional El Paso baseball game.

“Las Cruces has also been named an AARP Community Presence site, a location where we are doing a deep dive into the community to see what is needed and how can AARP help,” Lynch said.

“I really believe we are better known in the community now. People seek us out. We have people asking us to provide a presentation on what we do in the community because they want to learn more about AARP at the local level,” he said.

Lynch hopes once his service is complete, that others will continue forward – that members of the chapter board will continue to be leaders in the community and step up to get the work that is needed done.

“I hope that what we provide to the citizens of Las Cruces, both in service and in resources, that we do it in such a way, that the chapter and AARP stay working in the community and that its’ sustained for the future,” he said.

(Photo caption: Dave Lynch is inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame. Shown l-r are AARP NM State Director Gene Varela, Lynch, AARPNM Associate State Director Gary Williams, Lynch, State President Jackie Cooper, and AARP West Regional Vice President Kim Adler.)

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