By Tova Fruchtman
It all started with a prescription drug forum in Portales. As liaison to the state office for the non-profit organization AARP, George Lees attended the planning meeting. That is where he first saw Millie Goslin. Through the meetings and the planning a relationship evolved that soon turned to love.
“There was sort of a camaraderie that developed, and we found that we had things in common like each other’s attitudes and values,” Lees said.
As their relationship flourished, Goslin, 75, and Lees, 82, continued to be involved with AARP and volunteer in Clovis and Portales.
So it wasn’t terribly surprising when they found out they would accept the New Mexico AARP Andrus Award as a pair today in Albuquerque. The Andrus Award — named for the founder of AARP, Ethel Percy Andrus — was created in 2002 to honor an individual or a couple from each state who are making a powerful difference in their communities, according to the AARP Web site.
“I think it means a lot, especially since we’re involved with each other emotionally,” Goslin said.
Both are humble about winning the award.
“I’m a little embarrassed because I know people who volunteer as much if not more than I do,” Goslin said.
And Lees said because he’s involved with senior issues, “in a sense it’s a selfish effort.”
But that’s not to say they aren’t excited about receiving the award.
“It’s a very important award, (one) I never dreamed that I would actually get. We were very surprised even to get nominated,” Goslin said.
Vonnie Banther, director of the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program in Portales, nominated the couple for the award, stating in her May letter that Lees and Goslin had provided a combined total of 826 volunteer hours since January 2003. She said she nominated them as a couple because they volunteer as a couple.
“They both work so well together, and they’re so enjoyable to be with,” she said.
Lees and Goslin go above and beyond what is expected of volunteers, Banther said.
“I think that they care so much about what they do and they show so much passion in their work,” she said. “They seek out ways to volunteer and make a difference.”
Lees, who moved to Clovis six years ago, was recently elected chairman of the board of directors for the Eastern New Mexico Area Agency on Aging and is the liaison between the state AARP office in Sante Fe and seven AARP chapters in southeastern New Mexico, according the nomination form.
Goslin has been president of Roosevelt County AARP chapter for six years, serves as secretary of the Clovis AARP chapter and planned a public forum on prescription drugs.
Together Goslin and Lees are involved with Roosevelt County Senior Volunteer Program, volunteer at Roosevelt General Hospital Auxiliary, assist in planning the annual Conference on Aging, organized luncheons to thank legislators who back AARP issues and visit Santa Fe during the legislative session to encourage legislators to support AARP positions, according to the nomination form.
So, how have they continued to be so committed to volunteering?
“We fell in love,” Goslin said. “I think it helped both of us be more conscious.”
After attending the award ceremony today, Goslin and Lees will spend next weekend volunteering at a fishing clinic for kids at Oasis State Park. They have no plans to retire their services.
“We’re gifted, we have good health, we travel (and) we’re able to help people,” Lees said. “There’s no way that we could just sit back and twiddle our thumbs and watch TV.”