From his time in the military to his time on the City of Kirkland Senior Council, much of Art Mussman’s life has been about serving and helping others.
“Throughout his life, he’s been giving,” said Jack Staudt. “To me, that’s inspiring.”
This inspiration is what led Staudt, who is also part of the senior council, to nominate Mussman for the 2017 AARP Washington Andrus Award for Community Service. The nonprofit for people 50 and older agreed with Staudt and presented Mussman with the award on Nov. 14 at a council meeting. The award was presented by AARP Washington’s volunteer president, Mike Tucker.
Christina Clem, a spokesperson for AARP Washington, said the award recognizes older adults who volunteer in their communities.
According to an AARP press release, award recipients across the country were chosen for their ability to “enhance the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.”
As the winner of this top honor, Clem said in addition to the award, Mussman received a $1,000 donation to his charity of choice: Imagine Housing.
When he learned that Staudt had nominated him and when he learned he would receive the award, Mussman said he was “elated,” though he believes the recognition is more for the volunteering he has done over the years as at 85, he has slowed down quite a bit and is not as active as he used to be.
Prior to being on the senior council — which he helped found about 16-17 years ago — Mussman spent nearly a quarter of a century in the U.S. Air Force, according to an AARP press release. After he left the military, he volunteered with the Boeing Bluebills Heritage chapter. In 2007, the organization recognized Mussman with the Award for Outstanding Retiree Volunteerism for his service as software developer for the chapter, the release states.
While Mussman thinks he may be slowing down, Staudt believes differently. He said at senior council meetings, Mussman always provides insightful and well-researched information on the issues they discuss. Staudt added that when Mussman speaks, it is to make a point or valid argument.
This insightfulness and thoughtfulness is reflected in his chosen charity for the AARP award donation.
City of Kirkland human services administrator Leslie Miller, who staffed the senior council from 2014 to earlier this year, said a big issue of focus for Mussman is affordable housing for seniors.
The mission for Imagine Housing is to “develop affordable housing, build welcoming communities, and foster vibrant futures,” according to its website.
One of the reasons Staudt nominated Mussman for the volunteering award was because Mussman had been championing to bring another AARP program to Kirkland. When Staudt went online to learn more about that program, he found an article about the Andrus Award and thought of Mussman.
“The more you get to know Art…the more you realize he is passionate (about helping others),” he said.
Staudt described Mussman as an individual who uses his energy and intellect to support others. He said he just felt joy when he learned Mussman would be receiving the award. Others on the senior council agreed.
“They all just think it’s wonderful that this has happened,” Staudt said.
Miller was also pleased about Mussman receiving the award from AARP.
“I was absolutely thrilled that Art is getting recognized for the work (he does),” she said.
That work — as a member of the senior council — includes advocating for older residents in Kirkland.
Mussman said in addition to providing seniors with a voice in the city, the council also works to enrich people’s lives by letting them know about opportunities and activities for seniors in Kirkland.
One of those opportunities — which is for all ages — is Viva Volunteers! This is an annual volunteer fair presented by the senior council and gives the public the opportunity to learn about the volunteer opportunities in their community.
Mussman said as retirees, seniors have a lot of time on their hands and volunteering can help get them into their community, working with others. Also, volunteering makes you feel good, he said.