In JACL’s 90th year, it is appropriate that we reflect back and celebrate accomplishments and also look ahead to the future. As the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organizations in the United States, the JACL has been an advocate on issues that benefit the progress of Japanese Americans and Asian Americans. It continues to be an honor to be able to contribute relevant articles to the Pacific Citizen and JACL readers.
As we celebrate JACL’s 90th year, at AARP, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary as a social mission organization.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families — with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. We also work for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen products and services to carry the AARP name.
It was a startling case of poverty — a retired teacher, homeless and living in a chicken coop — that inspired AARP’s creation 60 years ago. What our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, saw was not OK. Dr. Andrus was a visionary and retired principal of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles. The shocking discovery of a distinguished former teacher living in a chicken coop because she could not afford proper housing, health care of food inspired our founder to devote the rest of her years to improving the quality of life for older adults.
Since then, we have fought to ensure that all older Americans can age with dignity, independence and purpose, and we do so as collaboratively as we can. As Dr. Andrus has said, “What we do, we do for all.”
Nearly 60,000 volunteers contribute their time, skills and energy to AARP activities, improving the lives of countless Americans. I have met JACL members that are also AARP volunteers over the years, and I always enjoy hearing about their experiences as an AARP volunteer.
With staffed offices in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are a powerful force for positive change in local communities, and we could not do our work without volunteers.
Below are several key areas of focus for AARP:
Supporting Family Caregivers
Caring for an adult relative or friend is a labor of love that can be stressful. AARP is here to help you sort it out. Family caregiving can be complex. It’s hard to know where to turn for help. The online AARP Family Caregiving site (www.aarp.org/caregiving) provides information about resources available in each state.
Battling High Drug Costs
AARP has advocated for affordable, accessible drug prices since our founding. Backed up by AARP research that tracks drug prices, we urge Congress to protect people, not drug company profits. Our online tools (www.aarp.org/health/drugs- supplements) help you learn about various drugs, check interactions and tell one pill from another.
Vibrant Communities for All Ages
Creating age-friendly, livable communi- ties helps people live where they choose and remain independent for as long as possible. AARP is teaming with hundreds of communities to keep people of all ages connected and safe.
Neighborhood ‘Livability’ Tool
Does your community have everything you need to be independent as you age? Are there mobility options for people who don’t drive? Is housing affordable and accessible? How’s the access to health care? Find out by plugging a city name or ZIP code into the online AARP Livability Index (www.aarp.org/livabilityindex).
Like the JACL, we look to our future and are focused on empowering people to choose how they live as they age. In this 90th anniversary year, AARP celebrates the many milestone accomplishments of the JACL. Happy anniversary!
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.