She get’s up every day looking to help others — 83-year-old woman wins state volunteer award

Published 11:07 am Saturday, December 12, 2020

Faye LaCagnina of Maylene has been selected to receive the 2020 AARP Alabama Andrus Award for Community Service, the Association’s most prestigious and visible annual state volunteer award for community service.

LaCagnina received the award recently in a virtual ceremony attended by AARP Alabama staff and volunteers. At her request, AARP Alabama has made donations to two organizations in LaCagnina’s honor: Wreaths Across America at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, and Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama.

LaCagnina has been serving people in the Shelby County area since she moved to Alabama from New York to be close to her children and grandchildren. Although the pandemic has curtailed many of her regular volunteer efforts, the 83 year-old still fills her days helping others. Each morning she carves out time to send cards and make phone calls to RSVP members on their birthdays at her own expense. She calls her project “Birthday Call Operation.”  It’s one way she can check in on people to make sure they have what they need. She also prepares hot meals for shut-ins and others who are struggling, sometimes cooking meals for two or three families a night.

Prior to the pandemic, LaCagnina volunteered at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, where she helped patients’ families for 13 years. She also was a familiar face in several of Shelby County’s nursing homes, where she regularly visited residents and worked with several veterans programs.

LaCagnina said she finds purpose in her volunteer work.

“It’s my privilege to get up every day and say, ‘What can I do for someone?’ It’s a blessing,” she said.

In addition to the Andrus Award, LaCagnina has received numerous awards for her volunteer service and is a member of the Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. Her story was highlighted in a Central Alabama United Way video demonstrating how one person can inspire others through volunteer service.

“Faye LaCagnina devotes her time and energy every day to help her community and we are thrilled to recognize her with this award,” says Candi Williams, AARP Alabama state director. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”

Recipients across the nation 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.