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Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I've been spending much of my time this past month recruiting and meeting with potential volunteers to help with AARP's work in Texas.

I wish I could say that I have a really phenomenal method for recruitment, but my methods are similar to casting a net into the ocean. I send emails and mail postcards, then cross my fingers.

Occasionally, I'll hear nothing. Sometimes I'll get a hundred responses and then the process of calling and meeting begins.

As I finish yet another round of interviews, I'm overwhelmed by the quality and talented pool of people who respond. Retired doctors, parents who have raised their children, business owners, accountants, educators...the list of talent and experience is long. They want to give us their time -- for free.

This time the responses have been a little different. Almost 99.9 percent of those who raised their hand to volunteer are still in the work force. They don't want to wait until they reach retirement age to become passionate about improving their communities.

Without hesitation, the majority of people who sign up to be volunteers say they want to "make a difference." They recognize the impact and power of working on the grass roots level to raise awareness and educate others about issues being debated in the state and U.S. Capitols. And, even though many have never knocked on a lawmaker's door to discuss these issues our new volunteers embrace the challenge. They absorb the training and messaging provided and take time to learn even more on their own. They rise to the challenge.

People who volunteer give more than their time. They share their passion, their knowledge, their talents and their heart. One thing AARP -- long term and new -- have in common is the desire to make a difference and the belief that one person can make that difference. Because of that, I often find most are involved in other organizations or their church as volunteers. I'm lucky and honored when they choose to share some of their time with us.

In the past four years that I've worked with AARP, volunteers have made me laugh and cry and they've inspired me.

I'll continue to be amazed at the wonderful people this job allows me to work with and meet on a daily basis. To quote a current AARP commercial, "When I grow up..." I want to be just like our volunteers.

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