April 10, 2013 - BY PHIL CUSTODIO
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Clarkston News Editor
Thomas E. Kimble of Clarkston has been a volunteer for decades. Now he's the lead volunteer in the state for American Association of Retired Persons, AARP.
"The purpose of life, to me, is to have a purpose in life," Kimble said. "My purpose in life is to always be of service to others."
The retired General Motors executive has been appointed state president of AARP Michigan for a two-year term.
He has served for six years on the AARP Michigan Executive Council and is serving with the AARP Volunteer Leaders Institute.
"I have developed a passion for volunteerism with AARP," he said. "I believe in the organization and support its mission. Seniors need us; it's God's work to help them."
One of his goals is to expand intergenerational activities.
"Seniors helping kids, kids helping seniors -- Clarkston is a gold mine of seniors who have great talent not being used," he said.
"I still encourage my neighbors in Clarkston to get involved in issues, and just give back – there are great things they can do," he continued.
"We need to help seniors retool their experiences. I really want to be part of the effort to get people involved and volunteers engaged."
Goals also include restructuring the executive committee.
"I want to add an executive committee person responsible for recruiting volunteers and helping them grow in the organization, somewhat like I did," he said.
They also need a person to spearhead intergenerational activities, he said.
"Someone in their early 40s to bridge the gap between young people and seniors, and work with young AARP members who haven't yet reached the conclusion that they're old enough to be a member," he said. "There's a whole digital world a young person could help us with, to get more people involved with Tweeting and Facebook."
Kimble serves as chair of the Executive Council, an all-volunteer panel made up of team leaders from regions across the state, and is partnering with AARP Michigan State Director Jacqueline Morrison.
"Tom Kimble has been a dedicated and effective leader of AARP Michigan for several years and we're thrilled he has accepted an expanded leadership role," Morrison said. "His skill set is a perfect match for our organization and I look forward to partnering with him to help turn older Michiganders' goals and dreams into real possibilities."
He will also act as principal volunteer spokesperson for AARP in Michigan, which has 1.4 million members.
Issues facing seniors include economic security, employment, Social Security, fraud avoidance, and health care – Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap, and the Affordable Health Care Act.
"Right now, Medicare is the biggest issue – we want to make sure it's stable over a long period of time," he said. "Social Security, most assume it's an entitlement program. It's not an entitlement, it's your dollars."
Health care changes at the national level is a big issue.
"No additional out-of-pocket to seniors, continued access to the doctor they want, better care, if those are there, AARP will be very happy," he said. "If there are any large cuts to benefits, increases in out-of-pocket, reduced access, that's where Kimble's going to be fighting."
He spends a lot of time in Lansing with state legislators, providing information on how policies affect seniors, he said.
He also travels around the state to talk to architects and city planners about livable communities, accessibility, long-term care, driver safety, and other issues.
"AARP is the largest educator of seniors in the country in driver safety," he said.
Kimble was recruited at GM in 1972, and retired after serving as vice-chairman of the GM Foundation and director of the auto company's Global Philanthropic Administration. Previous assignments include several positions as a finance director on GM's Finance staff and Comptroller of plants in Pontiac.
He has lived in Independence Township with his wife, Diandria, for the past 21 years, raising two sons. He grew up in Dallas, Texas.
"My parents were very generous and very active in the community," he said. "They believed in helping those who can't help themselves, and I kind of grew up with that mentality."
He can serve a maximum of six years as AARP state president.
"Today we have about 1,200 volunteers. I'd surely like to see 2,000 by the time I finish," he said. "I'd like to develop a more productive relationship with the state legislature. There's still room for us to be very friendly, work together, and solve issues for seniors across the board. I'm convinced the majority wants the same thing."
Locally, he serves on the Board of Directors for Clarkston State Bank, and has volunteered with Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce, SCAMP, and other groups. He has also served on numerous community boards and is past chairman of the Arts League of Michigan; Board of Directors of Oakland Family Services; Hospice of Michigan; Oakland County Workforce Development; and Oakland University College of Arts and Sciences.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.