Empowering Older Mainers: A Message from AARP Maine’s Volunteer State President
I retired. Now what? For many either contemplating retirement or who are newly retired, that’s a conundrum. I spent over forty years as a public-school educator and, to be perfectly honest, going to school was all that I knew. As retirement approached it was easy to identify ways in which I didn’t want to spend my time: store greeter, tutor, substitute teacher, bus driver, etc. Instead, I decided to turn the question around and look at what I wanted to do. Over the years I’ve learned that you give more than you get. Volunteering seemed to be an obvious route to take.
Setting fingers to keyboard, the quest began. The search was broad, since I really had no idea of what the possibilities were, but AARP was one of the first landing spots. At first I dismissed it, as I was pretty tired of the barrage of mailings touting insurance, travel discounts, and new cell phones. But, for whatever reason I continued the investigation and I discovered that the merchandise part of AARP is just a small part of what they actually do. In Maine, AARP devotes much effort to volunteers and advocacy.
Thus began my journey. I was accustomed to being an advocate since that’s what educators do naturally; advocating for students, ideals, and colleagues. What I’ve learned over the past five years is that advocating for those of us in the age 50-plus group is rewarding, has a lasting impact, and is not as intimidating as it sounds.
Advocacy for me began by attending one of the AARP Tuesdays at the State House. Here volunteers not only learn about the legislative process but are able to view the legislature in action. My first realization was that legislators are accessible and want to hear from the public. Additionally, when there are about 50 AARP volunteers sporting their red AARP shirts, we are a force to be reckoned with! Now that we are working in a virtual world, AARP volunteers are still as active, only from a distance.
Since that first Tuesday at the State House, I’ve become a regular attendee and have submitted testimony to several legislative committees, written letters to the editor, hosted local legislative roundtable discussions, and communicated with my elected officials; all with the gentle nurturing and support of AARP staff. During session, we meet every week. During the summer months, we meet bi-weekly.
AARP Maine has over 200,000 members with a small portion serving as active volunteer advocates. My key takeaway is that Maine is a small state where everyone’s voice not only is heard, but also counts. We are political without being partisan, which allows us to focus our energy to create policy that benefits all Mainers.
Now that I am the Volunteer State President, I find myself in the role of being a spokesperson for AARP initiatives. More importantly, I’m an advocate for our volunteers. My personal goal for my tenure is to empower as many older Mainers as possible to help them use their voices for the collective good. Join us.
For more information or to register to join our Tuesday calls, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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