After 44 years, the Copperas Cove AARP branch is in danger of closing because of a decline in membership.
“It’s difficult to get new local members,” said Eva Motzinger, the chapter president. “There are lots of people who are national members, but not part of the local group.”
Motzinger, 79, plans to move to Florida soon and doesn’t want to see the group fold.
“Forty-four years is a long time, and it would be a shame to see it go away after all those years,” she said. Local AARP members act as a community within the Copperas Cove community, Motzinger said. “We do a lot with the few people we have left,” AARP member Carole O’Dwyer said.
The group holds regular meetings at noon the second Monday every month, but it also has annual events and a variety of community service programs.“We try to help out however we can,” Motzinger said. “We want to be as active as possible, not just for ourselves, but to keep the community strong.”
AARP is about taking care of people, said former president Roger “Odie” O’Dwyer.
“We provide free income tax filing, national day of service, and we’ve cleaned graffiti in town too,” Odie O’Dwyer said.
He teaches a driver safety course specifically designed to help older drivers.
“The number one cause of accidents in older drivers is failure to yield properly, and we address that along with other issues that affect how you drive as you get older,” O’Dwyer said. Besides retirees joining only the national branch, Motzinger cited the changing times as another reason membership is dropping.
“More people are working later and later in life,” Motzinger said. “I retired only three years ago, and so many people are working well into their 50s and 60s that they don’t join the organization.”
Death also taken a toll on the group.
“This has been a tough year for us,” Motzinger said. “We’ve lost quite a few members, but you have to expect that. There’s so many of us that are just so … so old.”
Not all members are senior citizens, however. The only requirement to join the AARP is to be 50 years or older. Joining grants members access to affordable insurance and discounts around the country.