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Helping others is something each of us can do

Posted by Admin On October - 4 - 2011


By Lorraine Cortes-Vazque

(An AARP Op-Ed)


For many of us, part of the journey of living life to its fullest is the desire to leave a legacy, to make certain we have marked our passage through life by making the world a better place.  

AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, began with this mission in mind. She summed it up as “To serve, not to be served” – words that guide our work more than 50 years later.  

Helping others, being of service, especially to those who have had fewer opportunities or whose circumstances place them in need, is something each of us can do. You don’t have to be rich, or be a celebrity, and you don’t need to be a hero.  

Each of us has something to contribute. Each of us can ease the way for someone else.  

AARP has been dedicated to serving others for more than 50 years. But times change. We knew that if AARP were to continue being a powerful force for social change, we needed to redefine volunteerism and to create new volunteer opportunities. Today, time-challenged individuals need volunteer opportunities that are flexible and adaptable to fit within their active lifestyle.  

Given our increasingly diverse nation, AARP also sought to expand our engagement with multicultural volunteers and communities. It is an important step, since Dr. Andrus also said, “What we do, we do for all.” She wanted to insure no one was left behind. Today, AARP continues to fulfill her mission.

According to an AARP survey of Americans ages 44 to 79, about four in 10 people expect to spend more time volunteering when they retire, and about four in 10 retirees actually volunteer more. Among the most likely to say they want to increase their volunteer service are African Americans and Hispanics.

Yet, many said they hadn’t volunteered, simply because no one had asked them to give of their time to help. If asked, they said, they would volunteer.  

AARP is asking!  Join us. We have flexible, adaptable opportunities to suit every schedule and capacity. And we are eagerly seeking volunteers to connect with diverse communities to reach individuals with needs we can help address. Join us.   

We need you, and your neighbors and communities need you, to volunteer for AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service available to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Please visit www.aarp.org/tavolunteer8 for more information.  

We need you to help alleviate hunger among Americans age 50+, which has spiked nearly 80 percent since 2001, hitting the middle class, Hispanics, and African Americans hardest. Through Drive to End Hunger, AARP Foundation has donated more than three million meals through local hunger relief organizations. Please visit www.drivetoendhunger.org  to find out how you can help.  

We also invite you to visit www.createthegood.org (Compartir es Vivir), a destination to connect people to ways to make a difference in their communities. Among other tools, the site links to local volunteer opportunities to suit whatever time you have available – even if it’s only five minutes.  

Service to others is another step toward creating your legacy. Let’s give life to Dr. Andrus’s words, “What we do, we do for all.” She was a teacher who saw someone in need and helped. Each of us can do this. Join us!

Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez is the executive vice president for Multicultural Markets & Engagement at AARP.

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