CHEYENNE – It was difficult to pin down Torrington resident Anne Gardetto for an interview this week, as she had multiple meetings with various community service groups in Goshen County. But it’s this dedication to volunteer work that earned her the AARP Wyoming Eddie Wadda Community Service Award during the organization’s State Volunteer Recognition Awards Dinner in Casper Oct. 24.
The award is named after Wadda, an AARP volunteer and Eastern Shoshone Tribal Liaison who kept AARP informed of the needs of those on the Wind River Indian Reservation, according to a press release.
“I was very honored and surprised,” Gardetto said of receiving the award. “I am very honored to work with the dynamic and very, very dedicated members of Goshen County AARP Community Action Group … the only way I could take back this award was to share it with (all of the) members. No one program is created by just one person, it involves a team effort with enthusiasm and hard work. Even though we have fun working together, I am really impressed with members’ dedication and how serious they take their work – this is partially due to the seriousness of the work, particularly in a county where the needs are very high, but the financial resources are low. We’ve learned to take very creative measures to accomplish (our goals).”
Prior to joining AARP as a volunteer, Gardetto spent 36 years at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington where she helped to design and administer programs and services for students with an emphasis on underserved populations including single parents, displaced homemakers, economically disadvantaged, ethnic minority, first-generation college students, senior adults, and those suffering from family violence and sexual assault, the release states.
In retirement, Gardetto has used her organizational ability and strategic thought to help local citizenry become more engaged and better understand the full impact of current public policy proposals, such as health care reform – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security – through the sponsorship of public informational forums. In Goshen County, this year she’s assisted with events such as movies for grown-ups, coordination of training on the development of intergenerational city parks, and other presentations and social events for senior adults through the Goshen County AARP Community Action Group.
“I think that, in many ways, my previous work … at EWC, for example, is very much reflected in the work I am now doing through the local AARP organization,” Gardetto said. “I was first hired at EWC by former president Charles Rogers. He taught all employees the importance of community and responding to community needs. He was very responsive to the needs of special populations, and underscored the importance of the community college being there to serve the community – and all of the community.”
The EWC Board of Trustees awarded Gardetto honorary “Emeritus Status” upon her retirement in 2010, ending an academic career that “offered impact on Wyoming’s citizens rivaled by few,” per the release.
Gardetto also credited her success with AARP to fellow member Bill Marsh.
“He has done a lot of tremendous work in the community as it relates to Alzheimer’s and dementia – that is a big issue for the AARP organization in the state and nationally,” Gardetto said. “He’s provided a great deal of leadership.”
Other honors Gardetto’s received include appointments to posts by three Wyoming governors. Among those appointments was to the state Council on the Humanities, as well as a seat on the advisory council to the state’s predecessor to the Wyoming Department of Family Services. She was also appointed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to the Wyoming State Advisory Committee on Civil Rights.
One of her favorite service accomplishments came from her work with women.
“I received the Wyoming Women of Achievement Award, as nominated by the Business and Professional Women’s Organization in Goshen County,” Gardetto said. “It was presented by the Wyoming State Commission for Women, and I received several letters of support. That meant a lot to me, as I had worked very closely with a broad array of women.”
In the future, Gardetto said Goshen County’s AARP Community Action Group has several events planned to benefit senior residents in the area.
“Right now, we’re initiating the program ‘Movies for Grown-ups’,” she said. “We are offering the first in a series of movies presented with the Senior Center. In honor of Veterans Day, we’re presenting ‘The McConnell Story’ Friday, Nov. 10, at the Torrington Senior Friendship Center from 12:45 to 2:30 p.m. We’re offering free refreshments, and the public is invited.”
Goshen County AARP Community Action Group will also sponsor a series of programs next spring. The first, entitled “Disrupting Aging” will be presented by Katy Sarosy, state president, AARP Wyoming.
Another to-be-determined individual will present on “Senior Alert: Avoiding Fraud/Scams.”
Gardetto summed up her passion for AARP with a statement that suggests she truly believes in what the organization stands for.
“This group is very committed to positively affect the lives and awareness of senior adults in our community through activities and programs.”