Three Finalists Named For AARP’s Andrus Award in 2021

Logan Dailey/Torrington Telegram

CHEYENNE  AARP Wyoming has named three finalists for the AARP Wyoming Andrus Award and it needs the public’s help in naming a winner for the state’s premiere award for volunteers aged 50 and over. 

 The three nominees for the 2021 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award are: Rock Springs’ Thomas Trapp, Sheridan’s Clarence Montano, and Paul Novak of Goshen County.

For the last three years, AARP Wyoming has named two or three finalists for the state award, then asked the public to vote for their favorites finalist by “liking,” and “sharing,” a video of each posted on AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page. Last year, Western Wyoming resident Don Cushman’s video received 197 likes, 79 shares and 15 comments, and was viewed nearly 6,000 times.

AARP Wyoming’s Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/AARPWY. The voting will open on September 28 with a winner named on October 15. The winner will be honored during a virtual awards banquet this winter. 

About this year’s nominees

Thomas Trapp (Trapp video can be seen here) - Trapp owns an insulation company that also handles asbestos removal. Around Sweetwater County, Trapp has a reputation for being willing to help those who need work done. 

“Tom makes sure that the elderly people within our community have what they need, not only around the holidays, but all year long,” says Sadie Trapp. “He knows that the elderly are on a fixed budget and does everything within his power to make sure that they don't go without.”

According to Sadie Trapp, Thomas has provided those in need with free water heaters, insulation, heating and air conditioning work, as well as clean up floods. Sadie may also be outing him for his work through her nomination as she says Thomas is happy to do the work, but doesn’t look for the notoriety.

“He does this work for so many elderly people and never asks for a dime,” Sadies says. “If Thomas comes across an elderly person, or a person who doesn't have heat or water, or needs assistance he takes it upon himself to make sure that they get the services needed. He never leaves his name. He is grateful for the service that he can do.”

In addition, Trapp has also donated insulation to be used for a warming hut used by local snowmobile club, the Snowpokes; has worked as a volunteer on a sheep guzzler (water catchment and storage device used to provide water for wildlife) project, and is known in the community for dropping off vegetables at the front door of residents, ringing the doorbell and taking off before the door can open. 

Paul Novak (Novak video can be seen here) - Novak was nominated by Lisa Miller of Goshen County Economic Development, who called him, “the gem of Goshen County.” According to Miller, Novak has been a driving force in helping Goshen County’s older adults receive services close to home. 

“Prior to Paul’s efforts, Goshen County’s senior population would have to move across state lines to receive the care, housing and assistance that they can receive here now,” said Miller.

Miller said Novak has been on the Goshen Care Center Joint Powers Board for more than 40 years and under his leadership, the current 75-bed facility was built. Novak then lobbied and helped see through the construction of a 28-bed memory care unit. And that wasn’t all.

“After the memory care unit was built, Paul saw a need for a new kitchen, something to make our residents comfortable and well cared for,” Miller adds. “The new kitchen addition wasn't even completed and Paul started pushing for a 30-unit assisted living facility. No matter the numerous obstacles he encountered, the EvergreenAssisted Living Center is currently nearing completion with opening slated for fall 2021.”

Clarence and Stella Montano (Montano video can be seen here) - Montano was nominated for the Andrus Award by Sheridan’s Wayne Schaatz. The three have worked together for years on AARP Wyoming’s Sheridan Community Action Team. 

“They show great community pride and encourage other senior citizens to display pride in the Sheridan area by example and activity,” Schatz says. “They have encouraged volunteers to be an active part of the local AARP Community Action team by making sure the meetings were scheduled and planned very well.”

Stella is a common sight around Sheridan, having worked for years at The Hub on Smith, Sheridan’s Senior Center, where she worked in the caregiver program helping those who help others. She has also been a representative of the community on the Chamber of Commerce’s welcoming committee.

Clarence, a US Army Veteran, has been at the center of many different veterans efforts in Sheridan County, including a Veterans Golf Tournament, care packages for veterans who are deployed and more. 

The Montanos have been very active in non-veterans issues as well, helping with Sheridan’s Souper Bowl food drive, and the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce’s Third Thursday events, which gives Sheridan residents and visitors a chance to stroll Main Street and visit vendor booths. 

About the Award

The Andrus Award, named after AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, recognizes individuals who are sharing their experience, talent, and skills to enrich their communities in ways that are consistent with AARP's mission, vision, and commitment to volunteer service.

Only one volunteer per state (or couple performing service together) can receive the award each year and the recipient must live in the awarding state. The award winner is required to be at least 50 years old, and the achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must reflect AARP's vision and mission. This is not a posthumous award.

Past Winners

  • Don Cushman was the 2020 AARP Wyoming Andrus Award winner. After retiring 15 years ago, Cushman took a trip to Mississippi with the Presbytery of Wyoming to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. That experience led Cushman to make a commitment to work more consistently with Habitat for Humanity in Teton County. Cushman began driving the 55 miles each way, often twice-a-week (4,500 miles) to build sites in Teton County, which has culminated in its current effort, a five-year, six-building run. He has been named the Turnkey Award - given to the volunteer with the highest number of volunteer hours on a project - numerous times, and was named Habitat’s Lee Kuntz Volunteer of The Year Award winner for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2016.
  • The 2019 Andrus Award winners, Karen and Walter Jones, spend their retirement years volunteering with the National Park Service in Grand Teton National Park. For four months out of the year, the Jones’ live in their camper and devote their time to ensuring that the visitors of the park have a fulfilling and educational visit. Their duties with the park include talks about bear safety, animal information, and cultural history. They can be found answering questions at the desk or out on the hiking trails.
  • When the rules committee was making up those rules, it almost seems they had 2018 Andrus Award Winner, Kay Bjorklund of Thermopolis, in mind. Kay, age 95, remains a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, welcoming new businesses to Thermopolis, as well as program director for her Kiwanis Club, lining up speakers for the club’s twice-monthly meetings. One week a month you can find Kay delivering Meals on Wheels to Thermopolis residents. Each weekend she is acting activities director for The Pioneer Home, where she lines up Wii Bowling tournaments and shuffleboard. Kay would also mention she carries a 231 average on Wii bowling. If that isn’t enough, she also volunteers one day a week in the gift shop of the hospital in Thermopolis, and works with the doorstep ministry of her church.

  • Clayton and Gloria Jensen were honored as winners of the 2017 Andrus Award by AARP Wyoming. The Jensens are the coaches at the Casper Boxing Club in Casper where they have gained a reputation for changing the lives of at-risk young men and women. The mission of Casper Boxing Club is to promote sportsmanship, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and individuality through education, dedication, desire, and a commitment to maximize excellence. The program seeks to use the mind and body as a catalyst to bring about change, creating an environment to reach youth who others may have written off as unreachable. 

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