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Bill Harned honored with prestigious Andrus Award

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON " Most people know Bill Harned for his light-hearted nature and his ability to make a quick joke.

But under that jovial exterior, Harned is serious about selflessly helping out his fellow retirees, and that is why he was recently awarded AARP Kentucky’s 2009 Andrus Award for Community Service.

Harned is a member of AARP’s Mount Washington Chapter. Each year one recipient from each state is selected and this was the second year in a row that Mount Washington’s chapter produced Kentucky‘s winner.

Last year’s Kentucky recipient was Roger Clark.

Harned was recognized at a banquet in his honor Oct. 28 where family and friends gathered to celebrate his commitment to volunteerism and community service within the AARP. He joined the national organization 15 years ago and has been an active volunteer for 10 of those years.

According to AARP Kentucky, Harned was selected for several reasons, including organizing advocacy trips to Frankfort, serving on the organization’s Seniors Advisory Council and working with members of Congress and the Attorney General on issues affecting seniors and retirees.

Harned also is involved in many AARP activities locally with his wife, Rita Harned, who is the current Mount Washington chapter president.

“The things I enjoy most about AARP are, one, the community service activities we do right here in Bullitt County and, two, getting involved in the issues in Frankfort that affect seniors,” he said.

Clark said Harned embodied the AARP’s true spirit of putting others before self.

“Bill and I have done quite a lot together over the last seven years. There were several individual ideas that he came up with that did make a difference,” Clark said.

AARP State President Phil Peters said Harned has served six years as AARP state president and is committed to community improvement, such as cleaning up and restoring old cemeteries. He has also been involved in citizen’s advocacy projects and has been active in defending Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

“This has been a true second career for Bill,” Peters said.

Harned said when he retired after 30 years at General Electric in Louisville, he realized that he and Rita were livingly comfortably. He wanted to find a way to give back a little of what he had been given.

“What a wonderful word, enough,” Harned said. “When we have enough, what shall be our purpose?”

And so he decided it was time to get involved with the AARP to help other retirees and seniors have “enough” too.

Rita joined the AARP shortly after her husband. She said the organization has enriched their lives through volunteer work, meeting new people and most of all, realizing that others are benefiting their contributions. She said her husband is probably busier now than he was before retirement.

“He has worked diligently. He has devoted countless hours. It’s just been a joy,” Rita said.

Harned said he was humbled when selected as the state’s Andrus Award recipient.

He recognized that his work has been a small contribution that, when paired with the work and diligence of others, has enriched the lives of other retirees and seniors in Bullitt County and across the country.

“My fellow AARP members and the rest of the staff are amazing. I was very excited (about the award). Having been involved like I have been, I know what an honor it was,” he said.