Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg resident wins AARP's most prestigious award

“You get your satisfaction from helping other people. That’s your reward when you volunteer,’’ said Lois Herron, shown here after receiving the award from Doug Heinlein, AARP state president.

Jeff Young Photography

“You get your satisfaction from helping other people. That’s your reward when you volunteer,’’ said Lois Herron, shown here after receiving the award from Doug Heinlein, AARP state president.

ST. PETERSBURG — When Lois Herron witnessed the unveiling of the gazebo built for the elderly at a housing and community center in Miami, she was reminded of how impassioned she was about giving, volunteering and the simple act of paying it forward.

She was ecstatic to know that this gazebo, one of her favorite AARP projects, would serve as a link in connecting the community: a place where birthday parties and celebrations would be held; a place where friends would meet for lunch; or a place to read a book in the shade in the caress of a cool breeze.

Herron lives for moments like these — when she realizes she has done something that positively affects the lives of seniors.

That's why Herron, a St. Petersburg resident and former AARP Florida president, is the 2010 recipient of the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service, the association's most prestigious volunteer award.

"You get your satisfaction from helping other people. That's your reward when you volunteer," said Herron, 76.

The Andrus Award is given to one person in each state who has significantly embellished the lives of adults 50 and older and their communities.

"We could not find anyone more deserving than Lois," said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida's interim state director. "(Community service) is in her DNA. She's done everything you could imagine to help AARP."

Herron's interest in community service was sparked at a young age by her father's compassion. He served on the school board during World War II. He was always helping people, she said.

Herron has done just that almost all her life. Prior to becoming a full-time volunteer, she worked for United Way of Pinellas County for 21 years as vice president of marketing.

She has been officially volunteering for AARP since 1997 and was Florida state president until 2002. She has advocated for seniors for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and for the strengthening of Social Security. She also helped develop the Florida Chapter Award Recognition Program, which recognizes members and their accomplishments in the community. Herron is also an advocacy trainer where she meets with state and national elected officials at utility rate hearings and is also an instructor for a driver safety course for seniors.

"Sometimes people feel like they're forgotten, but then a group like AARP comes along and says 'No, you're important,' " she said.

That's what Herron wanted to stress during the gazebo unveiling, which was also AARP's 50th Anniversary Celebration.

A group of AARP volunteers and high school students dedicated the gazebo to the residents of Gibson/Stirrup Park Senior Housing and Community Center on Feb. 27, 2008, in Miami. This was part of AARP's partnership with Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit organization that rehabs houses for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners at no cost.

"It warms the heart to see somebody who after retirement is dedicating so much time," Johnson said.

Herron plans to continue volunteering and serving people in need. The Andrus Award only motivates her to work harder, serve more people.

"The world is in need of volunteers. We never have enough, especially in this time," she said. "So many people are in need. I think it's our responsibility to help others."

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at or (727) 893-8862.


Want to help?

Learn more about AARP Florida volunteer opportunities in the Tampa Bay area by contacting 1-866-595-7678, or send an e-mail to

St. Petersburg resident wins AARP's most prestigious award 11/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 27, 2010 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando commission to seek state audit of sheriff's spending

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The politically volatile idea of using a separate taxing district to fund Sheriff Al Nienhuis' budget is once again off the table.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   TimesTo clear up questions about the way Sheriff Al Nienhuis accounts for his agency's money,  county commissioners have asked for a formal audit through the state Auditor General's Office.
  2. PolitiFact: Did Confederate symbols gain prominence in the civil rights era?


    A major catalyst in the run up to the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va., was the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

    Tom Lever, 28, and Aaliyah Jones, 38, both of Charlottesville, put up a sign that says "Heather Heyer Park" at the base of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee monument in Emancipation Park on  Aug. 15 in Charlottesville, Va.  (AP Photo/Julia Rendleman)
  3. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

  4. USF panel to discuss on-campus stadium today


    The University of South Florida today will take another step in what it describes as "a long process" of exploring the possibility of building an on-campus football stadium.

    A conceptual look at one of two potential sites for an on-campus stadium at the University of South Florida. This location is on the west side of campus, just north of Fowler Avenue and east of Bruce B. Downs. [University of South Florida]
  5. No easy answer to the Dunedin parking question

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — Nothing has been more divisive in this city than the issue of paid parking.

    A server at Cafe Alfresco (background) claims Dunedin's new paid parking has cost him money. Dunedin began a paid parking last October. Nine months in, residents, business owners and city officials all share mixed feelings. In October, when the one-year program ends, the city will have until November to come up with another solution to its parking woes, or continue the paid parking program at the risk of angering locals.JIM DAMASKE   |   Times