Joyce Watson is the epitome; a model fulfilling all of the tenets of an AARP Volunteer:
Disrupt Aging - Check
Speakers Bureau Member - Check
Volunteer Portal Trainer - Check
Community Ambassador - Check
Smart Driver Trainer - Check
Donning AARP Gear - Check
Walking Group/Lunch Bunch Committee- Check
Watson, often affectionately called "Miss AARP," may be retired, but one would have a hard time believing that fact with all of the extracurricular activities she's involved in.
At first glance, she gives off the appearance of a delightful, knowledgeable, yet reticent librarian, but this little spitfire squashes that theory 100%. Escort her to the parking lot, and instead of watching her head towards a no-nonsense stately sedan, Watson instead jumps into her 2016, stick shift ‘Silver Bird’ Corvette Stingray and is off and onto her next adventure.
Watson has only been an AARP volunteer since June 2017, but with the aplomb ease she exudes when conducting various assignments, it appears she's been doing this for decades as a seasoned pro.
It only seems natural that her first foray into AARP commenced with her becoming an instructor with the Smart Driver program where she met Hampton Roads Community Access Program leader Edith White. Fast forward to attending an AARP-sponsored event, she met with an AARP staff member, who suggested Watson matriculate into the AARP volunteer program. Upon completion of the training, Watson was convinced this was the route she wanted to pursue.
Joyce’s personal and professional history is a book in the making with all of the historical parallels over the years that impacted her on a local level.
Working a total of 48 years, with 34 of them in the school system as a Gifted and Talented Teacher, Joyce retired from the Hampton City Schools system at age 54 and segued to working for the Navy as an Educational Advisor and then moved onto Thomas Nelson Community College as a Career Coach.
During her tenure as a teacher, Watson was heavily involved with VEA (Virginia Education Association) where she received a variety of accolades including the NEA Women's Leadership Training Award .
At Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University, Watson is currently a Booster where she is actively engaged in supporting the university. She's a fundraiser for the athletic department and serves as Treasurer of the alumni class.
Besides AARP, Watson also volunteers with other groups, including her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Incorporated (AKA) where she is a life as well as a golden member and is also heavily involved with her church, First Baptist of Hampton where she leads the adult Sunday school among other activities.
Even with a circle of projects going on around her, this mother of two grown sons always makes time for her beloved family. She has two grandkids whom she wishes she could see more often (as with every grandparent on the planet).
Growing up in the Maymont section of Richmond, Joyce was a “rebel with a cause” during the time of segregation where she participated in such activities as picketing the Thalhimers department store as a high school student protesting the denial to eat in their restaurant. Watson was also among the first teachers to integrate the Richmond public schools during that time period.
One can see the adoration and admiration in Joyce's eyes whenever she discusses her parents, especially her mother, one of 15 children and who is 94 years young, and still resides in Richmond, where Watson was born and raised.
Unbeknownst to her, Watson was already on the path to AARP because she was caregiving for her mom who's living with dementia. Before her retirement, Watson's mom worked for 20 years as an operation room Neurosurgery Nurse at the Medical College of Virginia, and she also worked 20 years at the Richmond Eye Hospital during the time when segregation was quite common.
Watson holds her mom in the highest esteem and is grateful for the lifestyle her mom and dad provided Watson and her siblings. You'll probably see Watson in the Corvette zipping back and forth on I-64 frequently visiting her mom.
In her spare time, Watson likes to kick back with her hubby Lewis (and fellow 'Vette driver) of over 50 years, watching a variety of movie genres, cooking and creating new dishes. When not behind the wheel or at a podium, Watson loves to travel with Lewis to exotic places like Cancun, Bermuda and Maui and wants to go to St Lucia and Curaçao.
Watson holds AARP in the highest regard. After retirement, she wanted to do something to contribute to society and this organization seemed to be the perfect place to devote her time. Some of her favorite events include the AVC (AARP Virginia College) the AVA (All Volunteer Assembly), the Speakers Bureau, tabling at events and MFG (Movies for Grownups).
Watson feels her background of being a Teacher, Counselor and Career Coach really enhances her skills to be a good AARP volunteer.
"I feel comfortable speaking before groups and I have the ability to actively listen to help others with their concerns," she says.
Watson adds, "I feel I have 'Disrupted Aging" by maintaining a ‘Jet Set’ lifestyle by driving my sports car, traveling and interacting with various individuals. Disrupting Aging also means to me that the number of your age does not dictate what you can or cannot do. It is all about mind, spirit and the will to do. I see so many people who have seen me and heard me talk about issues related to AARP. Some people call me "Miss AARP," and Wow!.....this really makes me feel good."
This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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