Community service

Silver Linings: Can-Do Couple Wins Annual Community Service Award

Joyce and Carl Bucciantini at their Friday night in Greene. The couple are the recipients of the 2021 Andrus Community Service Award. Named in honor of AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the award celebrates and honors those who make a difference in the lives of others, according to the AARP Maine. Russ Dillingham / Journal of the Sun

GREENE – Educators Joyce and Carl Bucciantini knew they wanted to stay involved in their community when they retired in 2017.

A little online research led them to the AARP, which announced last week that the Bucciantinis had won their annual community service award for 2021.

“Volunteering is just part of our lives,” Joyce Bucciantini said in a recent telephone interview. “I don’t think it serves the community. I think it’s just about being part of the community.

Through research, they discovered the “political” side of AARP, according to Carl Bucciantini.

“It’s not just about insurance,” he said.

Before the pandemic hit, the Bucciantinis hosted cafes, held at a small bakery in Lewiston, to which they invited guest speakers to talk about issues important to people over 50.

“The goal was to give retirees something to do,” Joyce said. People were “introduced to different topics and how to be a part of the community”.

The Bucciantinis have also hosted virtual “wiretaps” – legislative roundtables – and have been “dynamic members” of the fully-volunteer Maine AARP Tuesdays at the State House Corps.

The body is made up of 40 to 50 people who attend legislative sessions in red shirts. It’s hard to miss them, Carl said.

“It’s an ocean of red shirts,” he said. “We will be sitting in the House and the Senate. AARP provides lunch in the cafe and then we go off to witness or just be a presence.

It’s a good way to connect with your lawmakers, he said.

One of the highlights of the past two years has been the passage of the Work and Save Program bill, Joyce said.

The law, which came into effect Oct. 18, created the Maine Retirement Savings Program, a way for workers in Maine to contribute to a Roth IRA directly from their paychecks, according to an article posted on mainesenate.org.

Employers make the deduction easier but cannot contribute to the plan, which follows participants from job to job until they are ready to retire.

It is aimed at all employees, regardless of their age.

“A lot of the things that AARP promotes as senior support also supports communities,” Joyce said. “Helping young people save gives them a better chance to retire (when they get older).

The Andrus Community Service Award, named in honor of AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, celebrates and honors those who make a difference in the lives of others, according to Jane Margesson, director of communications for the AARP Maine.

“This is the most prestigious and visible award that AARP presents each year,” she wrote in a statement released to media.

“The Bucciantini’s extraordinary public service actively embodies Dr. Andrus’ motto: ‘To serve, not to be served,’ said Noël Bonam, director of AARP Maine.

“The AARP Maine Andrus award acts as a symbol to our members and to the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” said Bonam.

The awards committee received several nominations for the Bucciantini, who were praised for their can-do spirit and willingness to try new things, according to Margesson.

“Being with Carl and Joyce is being surrounded by two people who inspire you to do your best,” wrote one of the nominees. “They set the bar high for volunteering, and that prompts you to meet their standards or at least consider doing something yourself. They embody the values ​​of the Andrus Prize.

The couple have other irons in the fire.

Joyce, 66, is a tutor and tutor trainer for Androscoggin County Literacy Volunteers.

Carl, 69, serves on the board and executive committee of the Maine Education Association Retired, and is a member of the AARP Maine Volunteer Executive Council.

Both were longtime educators. Joyce worked in Alaska before moving to Maine, where she taught language arts at Auburn Middle School for 20 years.

Carl taught elementary school in Dexter, Garland and Exeter, before serving as an elementary and middle school counselor in Auburn for 21 years.

The couple met in college and married in 2007.

They say it’s hard to volunteer in schools, especially during a pandemic, but there is one thing you can do: be kind.

If a teacher sends home a note asking for a box of tissues or pencils, do so, Joyce said.

“Once a lawmaker asked me, ‘What do you want, teachers? »», She declared. “I said, ‘I want a pencil sharpener that works every day.’ It doesn’t take much.

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