"EMPOWER U" – AARP University Skill Building for Greater Impact

Posted on 03/27/24 by Steve Hahn

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AARP volunteer panel (l-r) Rosalie Calarco (staff), Pat Battle, Roger Pierce, Barbara Akinwole, Lillian Lee, Jeanne Van Divender, and Maria Semple

RALEIGH – AARP volunteers from across North Carolina gathered at the “Empower U” AARP University training here in March, where they received education and networking opportunities to help them build impactful, meaningful, and fun events in the communities where they reside.

It also helped them build skills to become more effective advocates for the growing number of older adults in North Carolina. AARP State Director Mike Olender explained, “As our aging population increases, so too does the need to help people live the kind of lives they want to live, and volunteers are leading that effort. Volunteers continue to be the voice of AARP in our legislative efforts an in 2023, hundreds of AARP local offerings were entirely volunteer led events.”

Will Stoner, AARP Director of Volunteer Engagement one of many expert presenters at Empower U

Some of the workshops and training included effective advocacy, skill building for communications and media relations, consumer protection and fraud prevention information, and working in collaboration with other to make our cities, towns, and rural communities better places for all ages.

AARP volunteer Doug Kline of Raleigh, a recently retired university professor, is quite familiar with educational settings. He was impressed with many of the Empower U presentations, especially one made by NC State Professor of Political Science Andrew Taylor on how Election 2024 presents both opportunities for challenges for older adults in the state.

“Hearing from other volunteers and both AARP state and national experts, was a great way to build knowledge and network. And if you are like me and love to learn, it was also a lot of fun.

After hearing about this year’s elections, I now hope to hear much more the candidates about where they stand on bread-and-butter issues for retirees like the future of Social Security and how they intend to help family caregivers,” Kline said.

Volunteer Victor Heinrich of Indian Beach, who is also an NC Senior Tarheel Legislative Delegate, knows that volunteer led events typically involve a group of volunteers as opposed to just one individual. “I especially appreciated a session on how to better understand group dynamics, assigning everyone specific roles and understanding how we can improve our offerings.”

Phil Lenowitz of Asheville, who serves on the AARP North Carolina Executive Council said, "So many volunteers expressed how they find meaning in volunteering and giving back. In addition to doing public good, it also does personal good providing social interaction and opportunities to meet others and have fun."

Search AARP's wide range of programs and causes to find volunteer and community service opportunities in your area and throughout the country.


This story is provided by AARP North Carolina. Visit the AARP North Carolina page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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