When Disaster Strikes, AARP Answers the Call

When Superstorm Sandy roared in, more than 6 million AARP members, their families and neighbors were among those whose lives she affected most severely.

Since our founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, first envisioned the 50+ population as an “army of useful citizens” more than a half century ago, disasters like Sandy have been a call to help and service that our members never hesitate to heed.

They responded with an extraordinary outpouring of volunteer support and financial contributions for the people affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and in Haiti, during the earthquake of 2010, AARP, AARP Foundation, and HelpAge USA set up AARP Haiti Relief, an online fundraising campaign to help 200,000 elderly earthquake victims. AARP Haiti Relief was the largest – and most successful – AARP online fundraising campaign ever. In just four days, we raised $500,000 from thousands of donors; the Foundation matched this with another $500,000. By mid-February, the campaign total stood at $1.4 million.

Knowing that the effort to rebuild lives, homes and communities following Sandy will take months, the AARP Foundation established the AARP Foundation Relief Fund. This fund will give the nearly $1.3 million already raised to select organizations working to support victims and communities battered by the storm, including organizations dedicated to serving older adults. We want them to know that they’re not alone. AARP is here to help.

I recently had the privilege of presenting one of these donations to American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, an occasion I won’t forget any time soon. I know from the heartbreaking – and inspiring – stories we hear from our members and others just how badly needed such donations are.

Stories like the one from Sue, about the New York printing and graphics business she had built with “10 years of hard work and sacrifice” – wiped out, with no flood insurance available to start rebuilding.

Or about the heroics of Margaret, who saved the life of the woman she cared for by swimming with her piggyback through rapidly rising water, out of the house and into the safety of rescue boats.

Read full versions of these and other compelling stories about Hurricane Sandy’s victims on our AARP blog.

AARP and AARP Foundation encourage you to donate to the relief fund, whose secure website ensures that 100 percent of tax-deductible donations will be used to help the victims of this disaster. To donate now, please go to www.aarp.org/disasterrelief.

Thank you for being a part of Ethel’s army of useful citizens.