I would like to give a big shout-out to the thousands of AARP volunteers who are fighting for families from New Hampshire to Hawaii. They put in hours upon hours of unpaid time and energy in a tireless effort to advance important issues to help people like you and me, including:
- Supporting family caregivers and the older loved ones who count on them to stay at home longer
- Working to help Americans retire with confidence
- Fighting to ensure you pay only what is reasonable and justified for your utility bill
- Helping hardworking Americans gain affordable access to health care by expanding Medicaid.
From advocating for caregivers at the state legislature to organizing a conference for nearly 500 people — Laurie is a super volunteer. She got involved with AARP back in 2009, just as she became a caregiver for her mother.
Since then she has been fighting for other caregivers by working to help pass legislation, like the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act — a commonsense solution to help family caregivers from hospital to home. The CARE Act is currently being considered by the Hawaii state legislature.
When asked why the CARE Act is important to her, Laurie shared:
“The CARE Act, it affects people that I know personally.”
Sherri from New Hampshire — Medicaid Expansion Volunteer
As cochair of AARP New Hampshire’s all-volunteer Capitol City Strike Force, Sheri is at the center of fighting to help Granite Staters keep their access to affordable health care. The state granted this access in 2014, by expanding Medicaid, and the action had to be reauthorized this year. Sheri went to work at the state capitol to help protect tens of thousands of people who were at risk of losing the care they count on. And her hard work paid off. Earlier this year, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill extending Medicaid expansion for another two years.
Sheri explained that her fight for this bill was incredibly personal. Her son, who passed away last month, was able to get the health care he needed because of Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire:
“Because of Medicaid expansion, he was able to live much longer with his health condition. Medicaid expansion kept him alive.”
Marvin from Missouri — Utilities Volunteer
Marvin has been volunteering with AARP for over a decade. Recently, he was instrumental in fighting against an unfair customer charge increase for electric customers in Independence, Mo.
Many utility companies across the country have a “customer charge,” or mandatory monthly fee, that remains the same — no matter how much electricity you use. This means when a utility company raises its customer charge, your bill goes up before you even turn the lights on.
Marvin’s utility company, Independence Power and Light, was trying to increase the monthly customer charge from $4.14 to $14.50. But, thanks in part to his testimony in front of the city council, the increase was stopped. He said:
“I think utility increases become unfair to the public, especially seniors.”
Marilyn from Connecticut — Retirement Security Program and Family Caregiving Volunteer
Fighting to make sure Connecticut residents can retire with confidence and family caregivers have the support they need — Marilyn does it all.
Over the last year, Marilyn has been an advocate for a Retirement Security Program — also called Work and Save — that would give workers a convenient way to save for the future at their job. A win-win-win that benefits workers, employers and the state, the program is being considered by the Connecticut legislature.
Marilyn has also been working to make sure family caregivers have the support and resources they need. A big part of her volunteering has focused on outreach to the Hispanic community, which is especially important to her, because “we tend to care for our own families within our own homes, and let’s face it, it gets very tiring sometimes.”
She’s also been fighting for caregivers at the state capitol, working to pass legislation that would support them. Last year she helped get the CARE Act passed, and this year she is helping to make sure caregivers have workplace flexibility, because caring for a loved one shouldn’t mean losing your pay. She said:
“I knew that AARP was very much involved with legislation that was taking place here in Connecticut. That’s what really got me interested in volunteering with AARP.”
Thank you to Laurie, Sherri, Marvin, Marilyn and ALL our amazing AARP volunteers who devote so much of their time and energy to help others.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.
Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes .