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Orlando woman honored by AARP Florida with “Trailblazer” award

Posted on 08/15/18 by Dave Bruns, AARP Florida

Tampa, Fla. – AARP Florida State President Donna Ginn announced that an Orlando area nurse who has been a leader on health-care issues has received the Trailblazer Award 2018, a new AARP award for outstanding community activists.

The Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus Community Trailblazer Awards, a one-time only honor, were a highlight of AARP’s participation in the Florida Conference on Aging, the state’s largest gathering of organizations and individuals serving older Floridians, held Aug. 13-15 in Tampa.

“Sixty years ago, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus founded AARP to fight for and equip older Americans to choose how they grow older,” said Donna Ginn, AARP Florida state president.  “She established AARP’s motto:  To serve, not to be served.  We still strive to make that motto live in the lives of millions of Americans today.  In announcing the Trailblazer Awards, we seek to honor six outstanding advocates for older people in Florida who, in partnership with AARP or working independently, have dedicated themselves to the same cause that Dr. Andrus believed in so passionately.”

Winning the award for the Orlando and Central Florida area was Annette Kelly.  An advanced practice registered nurse, Ms. Kelly founded the Central Florida area’s Pioneer Network and Neighbors Network to help seniors stay in their homes safely.  She served as executive director of the Alzheimers Center for many years, taught the next generations of nurses at Southern College, and continues to enhance the services of the Neighbors Network.

Other Central Florida nominees for the program were:

  • Helen Jones, Winter Park. Jones has been a valued AARP volunteer leader for more than 20 years.  She also is very active in the AARP Orlando Chapter 1047.  Ms. Jones not only is active on federal and state advocacy issues but regularly volunteers in the Orlando community for AARP.
  • Philip Koechlein, Melbourne. A two-time past president of AARP Chapter 1413 of Melbourne and current vice chair of the Brevard County Commission on Aging, Koechlein has been a valued AARP volunteer leader for two decades.  He serves as an AARP volunteer advocate with elected officials, teaches AARP Smart Driver driver-safety courses and offers educational presentations on appropriate auto and home techniques for older people through the AARP CarFit and HomeFit programs.
  • Mary Ellen Philbin, Orlando. Chief executive officer of Share The Care, a nonprofit organization that serves more than 1,400 family caregivers, Ms. Philbin has been a leader in aging service organizations for more than three decades.  She has worked extensively to create offerings for older Floridians and their families by working with allies across Central Florida, including the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Central Florida, the Pabst Charitable Foundation and the Winter Park Health Foundation.
  • Daniel Russo, Oviedo. A veteran AARP Driver Safety volunteer leader, Russo has roughly tripled the size of the safe-driving program in Central Florida.  He has helped recruit new instructors and widened the reach of the program.  He also has offered consumer education on how to get the most out of the modern technology in your vehicle, and make sure the vehicle fits you appropriately, through the AARP CarFit initiative.

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