Nominations Sought For State’s Top Volunteer Award For Those Age 50+

Posted on 05/24/22 by Tom Lacock

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Thermopolis resident Kay Bjorklund accepts the 2019 Andrus Award from US Senator John Barrasso, and his wife, Bobbi, in Casper.

AARP Wyoming is accepting submissions for the Andrus Award for Community Services through July 15. The Andrus Award recognizes individuals who are sharing their experience, talent, and skills to enrich their communities. 

To nominate a Wyomingite over the age of 50 for their service, go to:  AARP.org/AndrusAward.  If your nominee is chosen you will be given $500 to donate to the charity of your choice.

AARP’s commitment to volunteer service can be traced back to our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, whose motto “to serve, not to be served” has shaped our community service efforts at the national, state, and local levels. Each year, AARP honors the legacy of Dr. Andrus with the AARP Wyoming Andrus Award for Community Service

The annual Andrus Award for Community Service is AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award. It recognizes individuals who are sharing their experience, talent and skills to enrich their communities in ways that are consistent with AARP’s purpose, vision, and commitment to volunteer service, and that inspire others to volunteer. Only one Wyoming volunteer (or couple performing service together) can receive the Award.

Eligibility Guidelines

Nominees for the Award must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Nominees must be 50 years or older.
  • The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must have been performed on a volunteer basis, without pay. 
  • Volunteers receiving small stipends to cover costs associated with the volunteer activity are eligible.
  • The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must reflect AARP’s vision and purpose.
  • The achievements, accomplishments or service on which the nomination is based must be replicable and provide inspiration for others to serve.
  • Partisan political achievements, accomplishments or service may not be considered.
  • Couples or partners who perform service together are eligible; however, teams are not eligible.
  • The recipient must live in Wyoming.
  • Previous Andrus Award recipients are not eligible.
  • Volunteers serving on the Andrus Award selection committee are not eligible.
  • AARP staff members are not eligible.
  • This is not a posthumous award.

Recipient Selection Process

AARP Wyoming convenes a Selection Committee to ensure diverse perspectives and to review all nominations. For the last three years, AARP Wyoming has named two or three finalists for the state award, then ask the public to vote for their favorite finalist by “liking,” and “sharing,” a video of each is posted on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page. The inclusion of community-level AARP volunteers as well as community organizations is encouraged. While the AARP National Office provides guidance for the Andrus Award for Community Service, the selection of the recipient is at the sole discretion of AARP Wyoming.

Past Winners

  • In 2021, Torrington’s Paul Novak was named the AARP Wyoming Andrus Award winner for his better than 40 years on the Goshen Care Center Joint Powers Board of Directors. Since joining the Joint Powers Board, Novak has been a driving force in helping Torrington build a 24-unit Independent Living Facility; a skilled nursing home and dementia care unit with 75 rooms; and a 30-room assisted living facility, which opened in October of 2021. An extremely impressive array of care options and housing for older adults in a community of 6,700 residents.
  • Don Cushman was the 2020 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award winner. After retiring 15 years ago, Cushman took a trip to Mississippi with the Presbytery of Wyoming to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. That experience led Cushman to make a commitment to work more consistently with Habitat for Humanity in Teton County. Cushman began driving the 55 miles each way, often twice-a-week (4,500 miles) to build sites in Teton County, which has culminated in its current effort, a five-year, six-building run. He has been named the Turnkey Award - given to the volunteer with the highest number of volunteer hours on a project - numerous times, and was named Habitat’s Lee Kuntz Volunteer of The Year Award winner for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2016. 
  • The 2019 Andrus Award winners, Karen and Walter Jones, spend their retirement years volunteering with the National Park Service in Grand Teton National Park. For four months out of the year, the Jones’ live in their camper and devote their time to ensuring that the visitors of the park have a fulfilling and educational visit. Their duties with the park include talks about bear safety, animal information, and cultural history. They can be found answering questions at the desk or out on the hiking trails.
  • When the rules committee was making up those rules, it almost seems they had 2018 Andrus Award Winner, Kay Bjorklund of Thermopolis, in mind. Kay, age 95, remains a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, welcoming new businesses to Thermopolis, as well as program director for her Kiwanis Club, lining up speakers for the club’s twice-monthly meetings. One week a month you can find Kay delivering Meals on Wheels to Thermopolis residents. Each weekend she is acting activities director for The Pioneer Home, where she lines up Wii Bowling tournaments and shuffleboard. Kay would also mention she carries a 231 average on Wii bowling. If that isn’t enough, she also volunteers one day a week in the gift shop of the hospital in Thermopolis, and works with the doorstep ministry of her church.
  • Clayton and Gloria Jensen were honored as winners of the 2017 Andrus Award by AARP Wyoming. The Jensens are the coaches at the Casper Boxing Club in Casper where they have gained a reputation for changing the lives of at-risk young men and women. The mission of Casper Boxing Club is to promote sportsmanship, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and individuality through education, dedication, desire, and a commitment to maximize excellence. The program seeks to use the mind and body as a catalyst to bring about change, creating an environment to reach youth who others may have written off as unreachable. 

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

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