VINTON–AARP Virginia has awarded Lorraine Bratton of Vinton the Andrus Award for Community Service, which is the organization’s highest volunteer honor. She received the award at a banquet in Charlottesville on November 29.
“The AARP Andrus Award pays tribute to individuals whose work and achievements reflect AARP’s vision of bringing lifetimes of experience and leadership to serve all generations,” said AARP Virginia State Director Bill Kallio.
Bratton serves as the State Legislative Specialist and as the Coordinator for the 6th Congressional District, communicating with local members of Congress regarding issues important to the 50+ population. She is also the Community Outreach Director for AARP in the 5th Planning District, and serves on the “Create the Good” Team with her main focus on the Soup for Seniors program.
Bratton retired in 1995 from a career with Appalachian Power Company, and then worked part-time for Hampden Hills Tax Service in Vinton.
In 2002, when AARP sent volunteer recruitment postcards to their members announcing a luncheon, Bratton decided to attend and subsequently signed up as a volunteer for the AARP Virginia Advocacy Team. In 2007, Bratton received the AARP Virginia President’s Award for her work and dedication as an AARP volunteer.
In April 2012, the Local Office on Aging honored Bratton with the Babe and Sidney Louis Memorial Award for her work in recruiting volunteers for the LOA’s Meals on Wheels program through AARP’s “Create the Good” campaign. Through her efforts, the program recruited an additional 30 volunteers and helped LOA reach countless people who otherwise would not know about the volunteer needs of the Meals on Wheels program.
She also spearheaded AARP’s involvement in the LOA’s Soup for Seniors canned soup drive in January 2012, which set a record in soup collection.
Bratton doesn’t limit her volunteer work to AARP. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Roanoke Country Friends of the Library, which raises money for the library system.
“Lorraine is just a dynamo and well-deserving of an award for community service,” said Diana Rosapepe, Roanoke County Library Director. “You can find Lorraine helping at almost any Friends’ sponsored event, from the two big book sales each year to the special programs for the community. She’s there to greet people, answer questions, and encourage visitors to join the Friends. Lorraine doesn’t confine her efforts to things which happen in our buildings, either; she is always on the alert for opportunities to make people aware of the libraries and the Friends. I’ve especially appreciated her willingness to speak in public meetings, as she’s done several times on behalf of the Vinton and Glenvar library projects. Doing that can be a bit intimidating to some people, but Lorraine is fearless in support of what she believes in.”
In addition, Bratton works at the polls as an Election Official at the South Precinct in Vinton. She is often found taking the laptop computers out to the parking lot so that the elderly and disabled are able to vote from their vehicles.
The Andrus Award given to Bratton is named for Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the woman who founded AARP in 1958 at age 74, after an illustrious career as an educator in California. Through her tireless efforts, she revolutionized retirement in America and changed the way society views retirement and aging.
Andrus first founded the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947, motivated by finding a retired teacher living in a chicken coop because she could afford nothing else.
Realizing that retired teachers were living on incredibly small pensions of $60 per month, often without health insurance, Andrus founded the NRTA and later AARP on the simple premise that all Americans, including the elderly, should live independent, productive, and dignified lives.
From its inception, AARP has always placed a priority on community service and civic involvement. Andrus called on all members “to serve, not to be served,” as she challenged them to “create the good” by helping others in their communities.
Bratton has embraced that challenge wholeheartedly and is already busy planning AARP’s activities for the new General Assembly in 2013, with planning meetings scheduled in Richmond this week and at the Vinton War Memorial on December 7.
“The priorities for the State Advocacy Team at the General Assembly will be addressing hunger in Virginia, protecting the elderly from financial abuse and predatory lending, protecting Medicaid from budget cuts and expanding the coverage of Medicaid, and working on the Health Care Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act,” said Bratton. “The main focus on the Federal Advocacy will be protecting Social Security and Medicare and ensuring their future for all generations.”
Meanwhile, the annual Soup drive is scheduled for February 3- 9, 2013. The goal is to collect 35,000 cans of soup plus crackers to feed deserving seniors. Most of those receiving Soup receive “Meals on Wheels” services, but when the weather is bad, Meals on Wheels drivers cannot get the meals to those in need.
“Meals on Wheels is only one hot meal a day so we try to get easy to fix food to where it is needed,” said Bratton.
Asked why she is so passionate about the causes of the elderly, Bratton said, “I am 73 so that qualifies me as elderly so advocacy is a little selfish. I was the caregiver for my Mother for years. There are a lot of organizations working with children, but sometimes the older citizens get overlooked. Many are not able to fight the battles needed to protect them. Many have no family and have outlived their friends. They are cutoff from society and forgotten about. A little soup or a hot meal, a ride to church, or a trip to the movies or the library, a little friendly conversation helps them through the day.”
“I am also interested in seeing that the elderly of America who have contributed so much to this country, especially our veterans, are not overlooked by our legislators. Often, it is just a matter of pointing out some injustice affecting our seniors and getting legislation passed to address the issue.”