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AARP Nebraska Community Action Team member honored

October 11, 2016 GMT

Robert Prester of Gering was recently recognized for his community service efforts, receiving both the AARP Builder Award and an admiralship in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.

The AARP Builder Award is given by the AARP Nebraska Executive Council in recognition of volunteers who have provided significant and exemplary leadership and service and have built a stronger AARP volunteer network. The award is not given out every year. In fact, the award has not been given out for the past three years and recipients have to be recommended and qualify.

The admiralship is an honorary title and Nebraska’s highest honor for community service. You must also be nominated for this title and the Governor of Nebraska must approve the request.

Prester is the chairman of the board for the Gering Senior Center and a member of the AARP Community Action Team, as well as other organizations.


“I’m involved in just about everything seems like,” said Prester. “I started with the Community Action Team in 2006.”

Former Community Action Team Director Pauline Francisco said, “We are the AARP Community Action Team. We are a local group there are no other chapters. We’re small, but we’re mighty.”

The team serves the elderly and the shut-ins in the community, providing them with information and tools to be healthy, happy and safe.

“We do things like stuff bags with information we gather from different businesses and agencies,” said Prester, “We stuffed 600 bags this year.”

The bags are then delivered with Meals on Wheels.

“I’m also part of the senior center in Gering, which serves meals on wheels and we serve roughly 70 meals a day,” he said.

The team also partners with Western State Bank in Gering and they do a paper shredding event once a year.

“We had 220 cars come through and shredded 8,000 pounds of paper,” said Prester. “Last year, we did 9,000 pounds.”

The team also had a hand in saving the greenhouse near the armory in Gering.

“Between the three of us (Jean Lashley and Pauline Francisco), we got that going again,” said Prester. “I don’t have anything to do with it other than I’m not bashful and I’ll speak up. So, that was my part.”

The greenhouse sat there for two years and had fallen into disrepair.

“With nobody doing anything, the weeds were taking over,” said Prester. “Meanwhile there were broken pipes in there and it was a mess. Carol Knaub has taken over the project and it looks 200 percent better. There’s a community garden there and Carol planted a garden. The stuff that came out of the garden she took to the senior center.”

Jean Lashley is the current director of the Community Action Team. Francisco talked her into taking over when she was ready to step down after 13 years as director.

“I was only going to do it for little while, but it’s been 5 or 6 years now,” said Lashley.


Francisco won the AARP Builder Award in 2011, and she was also the culprit who started the nominations for Prester.

“I have to thank her for starting all of it,” said Prester. “But I didn’t realize it until I got the award that came in with all of the letters from around the community. Letters of recommendation for the award.”

Prester is also partly responsible for bringing CarFit to the area, he says.

“You’ve got to have a physical therapist to participate, so I got together with Mike (Moravec) over at Monument Physical Therapy and they’ve been doing CarFit for the last two years,” said Prester.

Francisco said, “He’s a good egg. “He’s been a wonderful asset to our community action team for sure.”

Prester said, “It’s just what I do. I don’t do this for accolade. It’s just what I do. It’s how I was raised.”