Questions and Answers with Greg Glischinski | AARP’s best volunteer knows how to speak to power | New

When AARP Colorado wants to get a message across, they turn to their contact at the State Capitol, Greg Glischinski.

The Colorado chapter of the national organization that serves and advocates for Americans 50 and older also relies on the Centennial Volunteer for a range of other tasks. He always answers the call, and that’s why he won the Chapter’s top prize this year.

Glischinski has been a volunteer advocate for the AARP for over 13 years, providing written and oral testimony to the General Assembly and following bills that affect older Coloradans throughout the legislative process.

In the last session, he spoke about utilities, broadband internet, healthcare, prescription drug prices, helping low-income people, rural needs, clean energy, transportation and consumer interests, according to AARP.

He keeps other AARP members informed by editing the chapter newsletter and serving as treasurer. He travels the state as part of the organization’s speakers bureau, including answering questions about Medicare.

The other volunteers appreciate his sense of humor, in addition to his dedication.

Bob Murphy, state director of AARP Colorado, said Glischinski is a great volunteer.

“There’s nothing he doesn’t do to help others,” Murphy said, adding, “He’s amazing.”

In addition to his work defending the legislative rights of the AARP, Glischinski was appointed a member of the Main Committee for the Town of Centennial, improving the lives of the more than 50 people in his community.

He has also been an appointed member of the Arapahoe County Council on Aging, representing Centennial at annual food drives to support food banks in western Arapahoe County.

“Greg has a calm but powerful presence,” wrote Mary Fries of Littleton, a co-volunteer who nominated him for the AARP recognition. “He is a collaborator. His long and broad range of knowledge and experience in consumer advocacy enables him to work from a historical perspective, linking the successes of the past with the challenges of the present and the future.”

Colorado Politics: You have just won the Andrus Award, AARP’s highest volunteer honor. How did you do that?

Greg Glischinski: I have to say I didn’t. I have been nominated and honored by other volunteers at AARP Colorado. I have been an AARP volunteer in many different positions. My goal has been to help others, not only the elderly, but also to try to improve the future of the younger ones as they get older. Much of my effort has been as a legislative advocate here in Colorado for AARP, where a group of volunteers work very hard to help shape policy to help seniors have a better quality of life. We spend a lot of time and energy studying state bills affecting people 50 and over and their families. It really is a team effort.

CP: What drew you to the organization and then drew you so deeply?

Glischinski: I started in one of the AARP chapters wanting to know how I could help with the inequalities in our health care system. I immediately found out that there was a state law advocacy group. I thought it would be interesting, so I attended one of their meetings. After listening to the great wealth of talent in the group and their welcoming attitude, I hooked. I knew the AARP was a large organization, but I didn’t realize the depth of the issues they are working on and how effective they are, not only locally here in the state, but nationally in terms of concerns the elderly. Many people believe that the elderly have health insurance, so that their health care needs are met. They don’t realize that half of our members are between 50 and 64 years old and still working. They are not eligible for Medicare. Medicare itself does not meet most of the health needs of eligible people. I have a background in the high tech industry. This led me to get involved in the policies of utilities such as telecommunications, broadband, gas and electricity. I was interested in some of the policies around payday loans and what was going on there.

CP: Is there a common thread running through all the bills you tend to testify about?

Glischinski: Yes. As I mentioned earlier, I work to improve the quality of life for the elderly. This is not just for current seniors, but to shape a future that will help younger people if they are fortunate enough to live to be considered a senior.

CP: What preconceived ideas, good or bad, do you come across on Capitol Hill when it comes to older Coloradans?

Glischinski: The future belongs to the young and the elderly have had their chance. It couldn’t be further from the truth. We are the largest voting group. Guess what? We are still here and have an experience that others have not yet encountered. Many of us are not only adopting technology, but we are helping to build the base that people use in technology today.

The idea that AARP has a political side that they prefer … is not true. The AARP is non-partisan, does not contribute to political campaigns or political PACs. In fact, as volunteer legislative advocates and leaders, we cannot conduct any political activity on behalf of AARP.

CP: How prepared should taxpayers and baby boomers be for the so-called silver tsunami?

Glischinski: My instant answer is, if you live long enough, you too will be in our shoes. At present, we know about 10,000 people a day in our country reaching 65 years of age. Between 2015 and 2050, the increase in the elderly will be 200%. If we can afford health care, life expectancy will be much higher than today. This means that people will be able to contribute much longer to the well-being of society. If people don’t feel that way, then who will be the first to jump off the cliff with that mindset? We should be developing policies that establish a better future, not the solution of the day.

CP: A lot of people have opinions, like you. How do they affect their problems?

Glischinski: They get involved. There are many ways to get involved. Some don’t require a lot of action, other than picking up the phone and calling your elected official, whether local, state, or federal. And above all, vote!

CP: Have you ever sat down to testify before a committee and forgot what you were going to say? If so, how did you record it?

Glischinski: No. I still have a written testimonial, however, sometimes I feel like I’m reading, which I am. You only have two or three minutes, so sometimes I end up using my testimony as a diagram to get my point across. My passion comes out when I do this. However, members of the committee have asked me some interesting questions. I was once asked if I believed loan sharks existed. It was a bit out of context, so I just smiled and said, “Sure, I see them.

CP: The best trip you’ve been on?

Glischinski: It’s difficult. I have traveled a lot over the years in my profession and now as a volunteer. A super bowl week, a few friends and I cruised without a crew on a sailboat for a few days from San Diego. We forgot it was Super Bowl week. Denver and Washington were playing. We sailed to Mission Bay and got a bill at the hotel where the Washington football team was staying. We walked into the hotel and found Washington fans partying. We immediately went to the gift shop and bought some Denver Bronco hats. I asked a family taking their picture if I could take a picture of a family that turned out to be the family of a federal judge. He invited me to be their guest at the NFL dinner that night at another hotel.

Fast facts:

Where did you grow up Sometimes I tell people that I grew up in Disneyland. This is somewhat true since I grew up in Anaheim, California and spent a lot of time in the park.

What was your dream job and what was your real job? I wanted to fly planes. I ended up traveling a lot as a technical assistant and then as an IT salesperson.

Are you a good dancer? No. I used to pretend to dance using my ski moves. Down, up, down, down.

Kids? I have a son, a daughter-in-law and two wonderful grandchildren.

What’s the most “Colorado” thing about you? I am colorful like our state.

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