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Sep 28, 2023

AARP Honors Those Doing the Most to Inspire Better Lives in Coastal Carolina

Sponsored Content provided by Rosalie Calarco - Associate State Director, Coastal Region, AARP

Guy Simmons, Bill Kawczynski Director of Military Affairs at UNCW, Shirley Gerrior, Matthew Embo, Brian Adamson, Secretary, Jim Blair, President, Rebecca Trammel, Leanne Churchill, and Mayor of Wilmington Bill Saffo.

At its 4th Annual “Inspiration Awards” celebration held at the Cameron Art Museum, AARP in Coastal North Carolina honored the people and organizations doing the most to improve the lives of older adults in the region.

The winners were each nominated by the public for their work to make our hometowns and rural communities better for all ages, fight fraud, help veterans and support family caregivers.

AARP North Carolina President Helen Mack, who helped present the awards said, “The Inspiration Awards are just a small way AARP is showing its gratitude for the meaningful contributions individuals and organizations are making that are having a real impact on people’s lives. We hope these awards inspire others to give more to their communities, neighbors, and friends.”

Pat Noday of WECT-TV in Wilmington was the Inspiration Awards Master of Ceremonies and helped announced this year’s winners. 

The 2023 AARP Inspiration Award Winners are:

Barbara Scott Akinwole, Leland, NC
As an advocate for safe, accessible communities for all ages, Akinwole serves as a member of an AARP team working to make Leland, NC, an Age-Friendly Community.  She also is a regular presenter at community workshops and meetings on such topics as fraud prevention, Social Security planning, caregiver support and more.

In addition, she served on the New Hanover County’s Master Aging Plan-Public Health & Wellness Committee, participated in the Emergency Preparedness Roundtables for older adults, and was invited to work on a Multisector Plan for Aging (MPA) in North Carolina, an initiative to led by Governor Roy Cooper. 

Other current volunteer positions include being a member of the Leland Town Planning Board, a member of the Brunswick County Library Board of Trustees and a volunteer for Cameron Museum of Art. 

Onslow County NAACP
Onslow County NAACP is a nonpartisan civil rights/civic service organization created in 1946.  The Onslow branch serves the community through volunteer work, as well as community advocacy, and engagement. The branch currently has ten active committees that serve the County.

Some of the areas important to aging well are health, legal redress, voter support/education, religious affairs, women empowerment, veteran support, and housing. 
Bethel Light Church Ministries, Goldsboro, NC
Bethel Light Church Ministries is a small but growing multicultural, congregation located south of Goldsboro, NC, in the Mar-Mac community.

Its ministry programs include those for children, teens, young adults, and men/women of all ages.  The Ministries provide transportation, after school tutoring programs, rest home ministries, an underprivileged children's fund, and radio/media ministry. For over a decade, the Bethel Light Church organization has strived to better the community around them, supporting different generations to interact wholeheartedly.

Neuse Neighbors Network, Pamlico County
Neuse Neighbors Network (NNN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping its members live independently in their own home for as long as possible. It serves communities bordering the Neuse River in Pamlico County, NC. 
Its all-volunteer team provides services that include private transportation, pet walking, caregiver respite, help with light tasks around the house, friendly visits to alleviate isolation, tech support, and much more. 
Since opening its doors in 2019, NNN has grown to include 120 members, supported by 100 dedicated volunteers. During that time, it has performed over 1,000 distinct services, of which nearly 600 were rides to medical appointments in Pamlico and the surrounding counties. It also maintains a Sponsorship Fund to assist individuals who cannot afford NNN’s modest membership fee. As a member of the national Village to Village network, a coalition of over 200 unique ‘villages’ in the USA and Canada, NNN is proud to advance the network’s mission to help seniors “age in place.”

Cape Fear Veteran Resilience Project, Wilmington
Several individuals were at the ceremony to accept the award on behalf of the project in Southeastern NC that is bringing together veterans’ organizations from across the region to help more veterans in need. Its vision is to veterans of all ages, as well as their caregivers, achieve life-enhancing wellness and resilience.

Among the help it provides is finances and employment, mental health and wellness, social engagement and academics and training. 

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more about AARP in North Carolina, visit, or follow @AARPNC on Facebook and Twitter.

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