By Lisa Capobianco
From collecting donations for the Rocky Hill Veterans Home and troops overseas to donating used books to the American Legion Auxiliary to funding two annual $500 scholarships for local graduating seniors, the Apple Valley Southington Chapter of AARP Connecticut has served all members of the community, young and old.
The chapter’s involvement in a variety of community service projects served as a key factor for the AARP to choose Apple Valley as the winner of the 2013 Chapter of the Year Award, according to Nora Duncan, the state director of AARP Connecticut.
“Their ability to keep 235 members actively engaged is really impressive,” Duncan said. “It is about taking care of people right here at home.”
Last week AARP Connecticut awarded the chapter with a plaque during a ceremony, where State Senator Joseph Markley, State Representative David Zoni and State Representative Al Adinolfi also recognized the chapter’s contributions to the entire community.
Josephine Theriault, the new volunteer president of the chapter, said she feels proud that the AARP chose her chapter out of all 34 chapters that applied for the award.
“It is really exciting to be singled out as doing a good job,” Theriault said. “Our motto is to serve and not to be served, and the group lives up to that every day.”
Every year an AARP Connecticut Chapter receives an award in recognition of its community service and advocacy and its participation in activities that fulfill the lives of older individuals. Other service projects of Apple Valley include saving box tops and labels for the town’s schools, supporting Bread for Life through a $400 donation for food and providing Christmas gifts for 40 senior citizens. Volunteers have also provided a free will donation to victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy through United Way and donating $200 toward the high school’s all-night graduation party.
Rachel Wache, the former volunteer president of the chapter, applied for the annual award this year. Calling the award an “honor,” Wache said the chapter won this yearly award for the first time, and she feels proud of the impact that her chapter has made on all members of the community.
“Whatever we do here affects everyone,” Wache said. “We touch all of those lives.”
Wache also said she hopes that all volunteers of the chapter will continue serving the needs of people throughout the town and the state.
“I hope that for the future, they continue to grow, to continue to be active in the community,” Wache said.
Besides participating in community service projects, Chapter volunteers also meet with local legislators to support issues that matter to Connecticut’s elderly population in Hartford. Anyone over age 50 interested in becoming a member of AARP can call toll free at (866) 295-7279.
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