By Sandra Zunino
Talbot County seniors are a unified force through the Talbot County Chapter of AARP. Originally the American Association of Retired Persons, the organization officially changed its name to AARP in 1991 to reflect that it no longer required members to be retired.
AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps seniors improve their quality of life. A national organization established in 1958, AARP’s membership includes 40 million seniors throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is the nation’s largest membership organization for citizens 50 years old and older.
Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus who evolved the organization from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which she established in 1947, founded AARP. Her philosophy was to promote productive aging, in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance. Ten years later, she opened the organization to all Americans over 50, creating the AARP of today.
The Talbot County chapter has been around for a long time, according to Howard Rosewell, president. While he doesn’t know the exact year it was established, he found records dating back as far as 1963. Rosewell himself has been a member since 1986.
“You must be a member of the nation level before you can join the local chapter,” explains Rosewell. The only other criterion to join is the applicant must be at least 50 years of age. Chapter dues run $7 per year and national dues are about $10 per year.
In exchange, members receive discounts for countless services, many related to dining and travel. Additionally, members can attend regular monthly meetings. “We have a very active chapter in that we have 350 to 375 members and our monthly meetings are attended by approximately 70 to 75 people,” says Howard.
During meetings, members discuss community-oriented programs offered by the chapter. For one such program, Save Your Trash, members collect and save tabs from soda cans to go to a higher purpose. “My wife was instrumental in the Save Your Trash campaign,” says Howard. “Last year we collected 120 lbs of soda can tabs and donated them to the Ronald McDonald House” he says.
“They sell them to a recycling company and it helps pay for the funding of the institution,” he adds.
Another drive includes collecting grocery receipts from Acme Supermarket. “We can turn those in to Shrine Hospital in Philadelphia and Acme will give the hospital one percent of the total of the receipts,” explains Howard.
“We also collect canned goods for the soup kitchen at Asbury United Methodist Church in Easton, says Howard. The Talbot AARP chapter will collaborate with other organizations and churches to expand the amount of items they are collecting.
On AARP’s National Day of Service, members volunteer to do something for the community. “We do something different every year,” says Howard. “Last year seven or eight of the members devoted a day to help clean up the cemetery in town.”
During the meetings, senior-oriented programs are presented to the members. “Recently the Talbot Count District Attorney spoke about scams that are aimed at seniors and what to do about it,” says Howard.
In addition to helping the community, the members gather to have a good time. Each year they hold an indoor picnic in the summer and holiday party around Christmas. They also have an active travel program, organizing day trips to theatres, museums, etc.
Currently, meetings are held at the Easton Fire House and non-members are welcome to come and see what the organization is all about. To find out more about AARP, visit www.aarp.org.