Posted by Linda Lynch
President Pat called the meeting to order promptly at 12:25. Our invocation was given by Rich Howard followed by a Rotary rendition of “America, The Beautiful” accompanied by John Dale Smith. Lisa Smith circulated throughout the room so all of our guests could be introduced, concluding with almost two full tables of AARP volunteers and staff who were introduced by Paula Cunningham, our Chair of the Month.
Diane Sanborn that announced that the health of the club was good, although Jack Draper was not able to attend because his wife is not feeling well. President Pat noted that Helen Mickens was in attendance after a period of absence and we welcomed her back. He also read a note from John Stephenson’s daughters thanking the club for a fruit basket that was sent during his rehab and the Rotary wheel flower arrangement sent to the funeral. The family had asked that John be remembered with gifts to our Foundation, and $775 has been received in his memory.
President Pat introduced Nicole Baumer to share her new member presentation. Nicole is Rotarian Laurie Baumer’s daughter and was sponsored by Janet Lillie. We learned that Nicole is a twin with many memories of family outings to see the Lugnuts and the Spartans. Her first exposure to Rotary was through the Delta/Waverly club when she received a Rotary scholarship for service. She attended MSU and worked for the State of Michigan during her college years. Upon graduation, she took a position with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, where she has worked her way up to Deputy Director. Nicole loves being in Lansing and wants to be part of Lansing’s solution. President Pat presented Nicole with her blue badge and welcomed her as a member of our club.
President Pat had several other announcements, including:
• The Happy R’s meet biweekly on Thursdays from 5:17 to 7:17. Please join them for their next gathering on March 5th at      Arcadia Smokehouse, 2101 E Michigan Avenue.
• Local grant applications will be opening soon.
• The club is accepting proposals to create content for our website revamp. If you are interested, proposals are due by Friday, February 28, by noon. Contact Susan Angel if you have questions.
• Umakanth recently traveled to India to visit Kannagi Nagar Free Tuition Center.
• We have received a letter from the Secretary of State’s office looking for individuals to participate on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. See Cathy for more information.
Ken Beachler introduced Jacqueline Lee, a singer from Birmingham Michigan, who is currently appearing in MSU’s production of Into the Woods. Jacqueline sang “On the Steps of the Palace”, a humorous number from Into the Woods which has Cinderella’s shoe stuck to the palace steps, and one of her personal favorites, “I Love to Rhyme” by Gershwin.
President Pat recognized Paula Cunningham as Chair of the Month and Chris Holman as Chair of the Day. Chris introduced our speaker, Jacqueline Baker, Director of AARP Innovation Labs.
Jacqueline began with a few words about innovation, necessary because we are all faced with doing more with less. Some of us think that we aren’t innovative, but all of us can be if we sit on the problems for a bit and engage differently. Innovation is not necessarily starting from scratch; it can be a series of incremental changes. Of course, it can also be disruptive.
AARP Labs focuses on disruptive innovation that addresses big issues that affect those 50+. When the lab began, they quickly realized the importance of Design Thinking. There is a focus on making sure that everyone is speaking the same language. This is achieved by getting feedback from those who will use the end products of their efforts.
They also erected a space, 10,000 sq ft, called the Hatchery. Jacqueline offered that she would be happy to conduct tours if any of us find ourselves in Washington DC.
AARP seeks to empower people to choose how to live as they age. Their focus is on three areas:
• Health – 30.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes or heart issues
• Wealth – the average saved for retirement is only $2500
• Self – loneliness has an effect equivalent to 15 cigarettes a day
Some products are developed internally by AARP Labs product development team. Examples include Let’s Be Well boxes, delivered by physicians to patients at the time a diagnosis is made and Vested in U, an online platform that makes it easier for small business owners to learn, find, compare and select the retirement plans that are best for them and their employees.
Many more products are developed as a result of startup engagement. Two paths are employed – pitch competitions and accelerator programs.
Pitch competitions occur around the country several times each year. AARP coordinates with local accelerators and their own state offices. This allows them to participate in more events for less money and provides more than just awards for the winners. They are also working with two accelerators, Mass Challenge and Upward Labs.
AARP Labs engagement with startups is primarily to assist with solving particular issues. They are not salesmen or marketing services. They are a department within AARP. Although there are some limited investment opportunities, they are primarily offering in kind services. There is a definite focus on impact, not just logo placement.
In conclusion, Jacqueline asked us to consider whether embracing innovation could elevate our organizations. President Pat thanked Jacqueline for speaking to our club, presented the Rotary coin, and mentioned that we would make a donation to our clean water project in the Dominican Republic in her name.
Our next meeting with be back at the Lansing Center with Dianne Byrum, Chair of the MSU Board of Trustees as our speaker.
President Pat adjourned the meeting and we were all free to enjoy a sunny Friday afternoon.
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