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Louisville Couple Driven to Volunteer Earns AARP KY Honor

December 1, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The couple who volunteers together, stays together, says a Louisville duo who help older Americans with tax preparation and employment. Their efforts are being rewarded with the AARP Kentucky top volunteer honor.

Leon and Rita Morrow are the recipients of the group's 2011 Andrus Award for Community Service. Leon says he failed tremendously at retirement, and after boredom with the golf greens, he says it was time to put some skin in the game of serving others.

"I almost feel a little bit awkward accepting an award like this for volunteering because I go back to the Emerson statement: 'No one can sincerely help another without also helping yourself.' That's what this is all about."

Leon and his wife Rita have delivered hands-on training to hundreds of older workers who want to remain in or return to the labor force. Rita Morrow says volunteering is its own reward.

"Just helping people in that 50-and-over age bracket do the job search, there's a real need for that in this economy."

Leon is also an instructor and the state coordinator for AARP's Driver Safety Program.

AARP Kentucky state director Jim Kimbrough says the couple embodies the founder's motto, "to serve and not to be served." They exemplify what ordinary people can do alongside government, he adds.

"So many of those activities are actually carried out by people volunteering on their own, not getting reimbursed in any way for what they do. It is what makes society go."

The Morrows worked in corporate America for more than 30 years. Leon admits he wishes he had learned the benefits of volunteering back then - a message many companies are sending now.

"'Be a contributor, not a taker,' and I'm thinking I missed that message at that age. I don't know where; I'm sure somebody said it, but I didn't get it. But I got it now. It's never too late. I got it now."

For more than a decade, AARP Kentucky has recognized its volunteers with the Andrus Award. The Morrows are the first couple to receive the honor. It is named for the group's founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY