For more than a decade, 74-year-old Ken Anderson has volunteered at the Grapevine Senior Activities Center, offering his skills and expertise gained over 33 years at IBM.
His service was recognized recently by the Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County, which honored him with the Outstanding Older American Award 2014.
Each year, the agency honors Tarrant County seniors who lead dignified, independent and productive lives and continue to contribute to the community.
Anderson, who along with his wife, Corrine, also volunteers at First Baptist Church of Euless, was honored May 23 at a ceremony in Fort Worth.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Anderson’s wife of 55 years.
According to the agency, the Grapevine center and the Euless church “have been positively impacted by the selfless donation of his time and expertise.”
Anderson began to volunteer at the activities center in January 2000. The computer program there was launched in 1998 and has evolved into one of the the center’s most successful programs.
Classes are designed for seniors 55 and older. More than 1,800 of them have enrolled in the 675-plus classes offered so far. The program is under the umbrella of Grapevine’s Parks and Recreation Department.
In July 2002, Anderson became the lead volunteer coordinator for the computer lab. His duties include quarterly scheduling and registration for classes as well as recruitment and orientation of volunteer teachers and assistants, program development, software maintenance and keeping administrative records. Some 32 volunteers are under Anderson’s guidance.
“Teaching seniors to use a computer opens up a whole new world of creativity, exploration and communication for them,” Anderson said. “However, the job can be challenging because of their hearing and sight impairments, physical limitations and emotional needs. Many have had little or no experience using a computer.”
Consequently, it is imperative that teachers be able to handle unusual situations. According to his fans, Anderson does an outstanding job mentoring the volunteer teachers. He has been lauded for his dynamic leadership and his ability to deal with a myriad of personalities.
In addition, Anderson worked with another individual to finalize the paperwork to create a 501(c)(3) corporation called Friends of the Grapevine Senior Activities Center. It was formed to receive tax-deductible gifts to support the senior center. Funds are used to improve technology and recurring programs and further educational opportunities.
Anderson has been president of this corporation since its inception and works to find and write grant requests. Over the years, the group has purchased items such as chair exercise equipment, kitchen equipment, lanyards, mah jongg game equipment, computer software and hardware, flash drives for students, a projection system that can handle computer presentations, a display case to show items made in the arts and crafts classes to encourage more participation, a pingpong table and a pool table.
Anderson said volunteering has been in his blood since his childhood in South Dakota. He became an engineering graduate and enlisted man and officer in the Army. He attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and joined IBM.
The Grapevine resident worked for 33 years for IBM in market support organizations in Chicago, Maryland and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Anderson, who will turn 75 on June 23, said he has no plans to cut back on his volunteerism.
“What I do is because the Lord is guiding me and directing me,” he said.