---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002 18:10:44 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: A YOUNGER AARP
A YOUNGER AARP
Group changes image, embraces boomers, flexes muscle
By LARRY LIPMAN
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Washington -- AARP. It has a new name, a new magazine, a new focus on baby
boomers and a new executive director. This is not your grandmother's
American Association of Retired Persons.
Once as synonymous with the elderly as early bird specials, the 35
million-member organization is aggressively pursuing the baby boomer
Only a half-dozen years ago, boomers didn't even meet the group's minimum
age of 50. Now, one out of five AARP members is between 50 and 56.
Most of them still are working. In fact, half of AARP's members still are
working. That has much to do with the 1999 name change to just the four
letters -- with no mention of the word "retired" -- that had been part of
the acronym for the organization.
The association also is flexing its muscles nationwide. Long a powerhouse
in Washington, AARP now has branch offices in every state and a lobbying
presence in every state capital.
In Georgia, AARP's state office is at 999 Peachtree St. N.E. in Atlanta.
This year, AARP is applying that muscle to one issue above all others: a
prescription drug benefit in Medicare.
Last month, for the first time, AARP members were urged to write to
President Bush, in addition to members of Congress, to demand a drug benefit.
This month, AARP plans to hold rallies around the country, urging members
of the congressional budget committees to earmark at least $300 billion for
a 10-year prescription drug benefit.
This fall, the organization, which does not endorse candidates or
contribute to political campaigns, plans to publish voter guides that will
highlight, in no uncertain terms, whether lawmakers and challengers are for
or against an AARP-backed Medicare drug benefit.
"We know that budget constraints are greater than last year ... but so is
the need for a drug benefit," said William Novelli, who took over as AARP's
executive director and chief operating officer in June.
"At the end of the day, people still need their medication, and they still
have to figure out how they are going to pay for it. This is a major
problem in this county, and putting it off is not going to make it any
easier; it will make it harder," Novelli said.
A co-founder of Porter Novelli, one of the world's largest public-relations
agencies, Novelli, 60, was executive vice president of CARE and president
of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids before joining AARP about two years
ago. He took over the top post from Horace Deets, a former Jesuit priest
who headed the organization for more than a decade.
Novelli brings a tougher attitude toward dealing with Congress. In recent
years, AARP has been unwilling to endorse legislation. Instead, it would
offer general guidelines to Congress.
The winds of change began blowing through AARP a few years ago. The leading
edge of the baby boomers was reaching 50. Would they join the association
In October 2000, AARP launched an advertising campaign designed to change
the organization's image.
The campaign featured portraits of active, healthy-looking boomers, along
with those slightly older. As part of that campaign, AARP sponsors the
"Forever Young" segment of NBC's "Today" show.
Last February , AARP launched a magazine aimed directly at the baby boom
generation with an initial press run of 3.1 million, the largest
circulation for a new magazine in history.
Titled "My Generation" -- boomers might recall the rock group The Who's
song of that title that contained the lyrics, "Hope I die before I get old"
-- the magazine is a hipper version of the association's Modern Maturity
and has featured such cover celebrities as Sally Field and Susan Sarandon.
Last month, AARP launched another publication, Segunda Juventud, or "Second
Youth," a Spanish-language quarterly newspaper for the country's growing
Hispanic elderly population.
This year, Novelli says, AARP also plans to focus more on living
arrangements for the elderly, from independent living to assisted living to
nursing homes and a quality end of life.
The association will sponsor research and propose legislative and
private-sector changes to make it easier for current and future elderly
generations to remain in their homes as long as possible and then receive
an orderly progression of care.
AARP plans to launch two other efforts this year to enhance volunteerism
and physical fitness, Novelli said.
Volunteerism has been a part of AARP since its founding in 1958. The group
has programs in which members help one another with tax advice, driver
education, grief counseling and employment.
Now, AARP plans to work with other organizations to match its members'
desire to volunteer with groups that need assistance, such as Big
Brothers-Big Sisters or Habitat for Humanity.
To promote fitness, AARP sponsors the "Triumph Classic," a triathlon-style
event for people 50 and over that includes a 5-kilometer run, 20-kilometer
bicycle race and 400-meter swim.
This year, it will be held in 15 cities, including Atlanta on Sept. 29.
AARP also is working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on pilot
programs to encourage and make it easier for adults to stay active longer
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