Recognizing the Value of Volunteers

When you work for an organization powered by more than 58,000 exceptional volunteers, National Volunteer Week is more than a footnote on the calendar. It’s an important reminder to thank and honor the unpaid heroes who make a difference in our communities through their time, experience and dedication.

I see the incredible value of volunteers’ commitment every day. There is honestly no way that AARP could meet our goals for improving the lives of older Americans without their hard work. Across the country, AARP volunteers are making a contribution through actions large and small. Many are serving in our efforts to support family caregivers, help individuals save for retirement, and fight against proposals that raise health care costs and cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Others help friends and neighbors file taxes, protect against fraud, improve their driving skills and brush up their technology know-how. Still more are working on ways to make their communities great places to live for people of all ages. The list goes on and on.

Of course, our volunteers are far from alone. More than 62 million Americans devote their time (an estimated 7.9 billion hours a year!) — and passion — to service.

Why do they do it? According to an AARP survey of people 45-plus, the top reasons are all about giving back and making a difference for their communities and people in need. While being acknowledged for their efforts didn’t even crack the list, genuine appreciation from those we love and value goes a long way.

So please, take a little time out of your week to recognize the volunteers in your life with a cup of coffee, a hug or simply your heartfelt thanks. It requires so little and means so much!

And, THANK YOU to all of our wonderful AARP volunteers! (You should know that my relationship with AARP volunteers goes back a long way. I was actually introduced to the organizations by volunteers: my parents and other family members who served through an AARP chapter in New Jersey.) You truly are the secret to our success.

Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

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