Volunteer Summit to Showcase Efforts Across Ohio

Posted on 10/31/22 by Noreen Willhelm

Veronica McCreary-Hall has been volunteering since she was a kid at church. But attending a 2019 AARP program in Cincinnati changed her life.

The program was on brain health and self-care. “The energy, the opportunities, the possibilities,” she says. “I was so excited. I sought out someone to say, ‘How do I get involved?’ I’ve been involved ever since.”

McCreary-Hall, of the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, has spent more than three years working in advocacy for AARP. Among her activities have been offering orientations for new volunteers and screening calls for telephone town hall events. She loves educating people on how to advocate for themselves and others. 

She’s also now one of seven incoming members of the AARP Ohio Executive Council and will help showcase volunteer efforts at an upcoming statewide event. The 2023 AARP Ohio Virtual Volunteer Summit will be held Monday, Jan. 30, through Friday, Feb. 3. (The summits were held in person until 2020, when COVID forced them online.)

McCreary-Hall sees the summits as an opportunity to share the love of her role with others. For AARP, the summit will offer information on advocacy and volunteer opportunities, says Zachery McCune, outreach and advocacy manager for AARP Ohio. Having the event online will eliminate travel and transportation barriers. “We want to be able to meet people where they’re at,” McCune says.

A time to network

As summit preparations are underway, AARP Ohio has also decided to expand its Executive Council, which helps shape strategy for the state’s efforts to effect change for older adults and their families; it will increase from four to 11 members. According to Holly Holtzen, AARP Ohio state director, each member will offer “a fresh voice and perspective as we deepen our presence in communities across Ohio and advance our advocacy priorities at the local, state and federal levels.”

The summit is valuable for connecting volunteers, says Mike Kessler, 74, of Powell, north of Columbus; he’s been a longtime volunteer fraud-prevention presenter for AARP.

“You get to meet other people doing similar things and find out what their take on it is,” he says. “You can get a new idea you haven’t thought of. It’s a really good networking time.”

And even though the summit has moved online, Kessler says, there’s still a sense of connection. “You get some feeling you’re still part of a tribe,” he says.

McCreary-Hall has participated in the summits since 2019. “It’s a great training session, with learning opportunities on how to better advocate for the 50-plus community,” she says. At the 2022 summit, she attended sessions on aging in Ohio, tracking legislation, representing AARP on boards and commissions, and voter engagement.

McCune says about 100 people participated in this year’s summit. That included “longtime volunteers, in-person superstars, and some new additions, picked up during virtual opportunities over the past two years,” he says. “It really is a dynamic group.”

The summit is open to all AARP members. “It’s an opportunity to learn more about what we do in our communities,” McCune says. Those interested in participating can contact ohaarp@aarp.org or call 866-389-5653.

Noreen Willhelm is a freelance writer who lives in the Dayton area.

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

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