Renton's senior population is growing, and so is the local AARP membership.
Earlier this month, Mayor Denis Law helped the local AARP chapter 414 celebrate its 40th year in Renton.
The group includes approximately 50 members, said President Sandel Demastus who attended a Sept. 12 meeting along with eight of the 11 AARP board members, all dressed in their red chapter polos, to accept the Mayor's proclamation recognizing the local chapter's milestone.
, and AARP member since 1997, also attended the meeting and shared her experiences with the group.
"She's really holding us together," Demastus said of Burns-Haley.
AARP members are typically over 50-years-old, although age doesn't matter, she said. Dues are $5 per year and are donated to local charities such as , Child Haven, and others.
Over the last three years Demastus has run the group, scheduling speakers for AARP's monthly meeting at the Renton Senior Center on the third Friday of the month at 1 p.m.
"AARP is desperately trying to advocate for senior services," she said.
King County Tax Assessor Llyod Hara is scheduled to speak at the next meeting on Sept. 30, she said, adding that many seniors don't know that they're eligible for property tax breaks after the age of 62.
The group's 40-year celebration will continue at its next meeting with a cake during social hour following Hara's presentation.
Former Mayor Kathy Keolker will speak in October about the in Mexico, and in November the group will learn about senior community services. Speakers are normally from nonprofits that provide senior services.
The group has also traveled to Olympia in the past and works closely with Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director for the AARP.
After four major cancer surgeries, Demastus said she's slowed down a bit, although it's hard to notice.
She's Vice President of the and has her own TV talk show on Channel 77, The Sandel Show.
AARP "spiritually keeps me going," she said of the group, the continuing social education and interaction with other members. There's Senior Lobby Day in October, a holiday party in December, and a half-dozen members marched in the in July, just to name a few events outside the monthly social meeting.
And the group continues to expand.
"The membership is growing because they are fed up with the government," Demastus said.
When asked about her goals for the Renton chapter, she said it's all about lifelong learning and helping others.
"Just to educate seniors," she said. "A lot of them just don't know where to go to get help."
Contact the Renton AARP by phone: (425) 255-9448, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org