AARP Gives Thanks to ‘Energizer Bunny’ of Volunteers

HARTFORD, Conn. — There is some good news this Thanksgiving, as 80-year-old Marie Hakmiller from Willimantic has been selected for AARP Connecticut’s most prestigious honor, the Andrus Award.

The recipient gets to choose a charity to receive a $3,000 donation. Hakmiller chose the Holy Family Home and Shelter, where she serves as volunteer coordinator.

“I know that this will help someone perhaps get into an apartment a little earlier, because it might help to subsidize some rent,” Hakmiller explained. “Or it may be able to pay a light bill or electricity bill for somebody and we can keep them from becoming homeless.”

Hakmiller, a retired administrator, has spent 50 years volunteering for a long list of causes, including AARP, Community Companions and Homemakers, Windham Hospital, Storrs Cemetery, the League of Women Voters, the Mansfield Town Council, Windham United Way, the Girl Scouts, and the Mansfield Senior Center.

Small wonder the people who nominated her call her the “Energizer bunny” of volunteers.

Elaine Werner, senior program specialist for volunteer engagement and public outreach at AARP Connecticut, said the people who nominated Hakmiller couldn’t say enough in praise of her.

“You know, words keep popping up about her: ‘impactful, tireless, inspiring, rallies the troops,'” Werner confirmed. “One said Marie ‘has demonstrated how rewarding volunteering can be, from the smallest job to leadership positions.'”

The Andrus Award is named after the organization’s founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, whose motto was “To serve. Not to be served.”

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