AARP Arkansas honors volunteer leaders with 2015 awards

Mary Dillard of Glen Rose is the 2015 recipient of the Andrus State Award for Community Service, AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award.

Dillard, a past AARP Arkansas State President, received the award during AARP Arkansas’ 2015 Andrus Award and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, held Wednesday evening in Hot Springs. Also presented Wednesday was AARP Arkansas’ 2015 Distinguished Service Award, to AARP Arkansas Lead Volunteer for Advocacy Charlie Wagener, who lives near Beebe.

The keynote address at the event was delivered by Eric Schneidewind, AARP’s national President-elect and a member of AARP’s national all-volunteer Board of Directors. Schneidewind praised AARP Arkansas volunteers for all they do to make Arkansas a better place, notably the key role AARP volunteers played in contacting their state legislators and successfully advocating continuation of the Private Option for affordable health care.

The Andrus Award is AARP’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award for community service. The award recognizes outstanding individuals who made their communities better in ways that are consistent with AARP’s mission, vision and commitment to volunteer service, and who inspire others to volunteer.

AARP’s commitment to volunteer service can be traced back to the life and vision of founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. From the beginning, her motto, “To serve, not to be served,” has shaped AARP’s community service efforts at the national, state and local levels. The Andrus Award winner is nominated by his or her peers and the award recipient is chosen by a special selection committee consisting of AARP Arkansas volunteer leaders.

Mary Dillard has served as a leadership volunteer with AARP Arkansas since 2006. She served as State President, the top volunteer position in Arkansas, from 2009-11 and in 2012 was named to AARP’s National Policy Council, which makes policy recommendations on key issues to AARP’s national Board of Directors.

As State President, Mary effectively advocated on AARP’s behalf with members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.; Arkansas state elected officials; and the Arkansas Legislature. She used her influence, professional reputation and expertise in politics, policy and organizational management to move AARP’s issues forward resulting in positive change in Arkansas and across the nation.

“Mary’s effectiveness in positions of leadership and her staunch commitment to AARP on the national and state levels have been demonstrated repeatedly,” said AARP State President Nan Selz. “She is unwavering in her support of AARP Arkansas.”

Because so many high-quality volunteers have historically been nominated for the Andrus Award, AARP Arkansas created the Distinguished Service Award and it is given to the nominee who is runner-up for the Andrus Award. As AARP Arkansas Lead Volunteer for Advocacy, Charlie Wagener manages and coordinates the team of AARP Arkansas volunteer advocates known as the “A-Team.”

Charlie has demonstrated consistent and outstanding volunteer leadership on issues that really matter to Arkansans 50+, from continuing the Private Option, referenced above, and passing the Arkansas Lay Caregiver Act (Act 1013 of 2015) to fighting cuts to senior meals and supporting choices in long-term care.

“Charlie is an exceptional leader, coordinator, facilitator, manager and mentor, and excels in everything he does,” Selz said.