GREENE — Educators Joyce and Carl Bucciantini knew they wanted to stay involved in their community when they retired in 2017.

A little online research led them to AARP, which last week announced the Bucciantinis had won its annual community service award for 2021.

“Volunteering is just part of our lives,” Joyce Bucciantini said in a recent telephone interview. “I don’t think of it as serving the community. I think of it as just being part of the community.”

Through research, they discovered the “policy” side of AARP, according to Carl Bucciantini.

“It’s not only about insurance,” he said.

Before the pandemic hit, the Bucciantinis organized coffee klatches, held at a small bakery in Lewiston, to which they invited speakers to talk about issues important to people older than 50.


“The whole goal was to give retired people something to do,” Joyce said. People were “introduced to different topics and how to be a part of the community.”

The Bucciantinis also held virtual “on-taps” — legislative roundtable discussions — and served as “vibrant members” of the all-volunteer AARP Maine Tuesdays at the State House corps.

The corps is made up of 40 to 50 people who attend legislative sessions wearing red shirts. It is hard to miss them, Carl said.

“It’s an ocean of red shirts,” he said. “We go sit in the House and Senate. AARP provides lunch in the café, then we go off and testify or just be a presence.”

It is a good way to make connections with your legislators, he said.

A highlight of the past two years was getting the Work and Save Program bill passed, Joyce said.


The law, effective Oct. 18, created the Maine Retirement Savings Program, a way for working Mainers to contribute to a Roth IRA directly from their paychecks, according to a post on

Employers facilitate the deduction but cannot contribute money to the plan, which follows participants from job to job until they are ready to retire.

It is for all employees, regardless of age.

“A lot of things AARP promotes as supportive of seniors is also supportive of communities,” Joyce said. “Helping young people to save offers them a better chance to retire (when they age).”

The Andrus Community Service Award, named in honor of AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, celebrates and honors those who make a difference in the lives of others, according to Jane Margesson, AARP Maine’s communications director.

“It is the most prestigious and visible award AARP presents each year,” she wrote in a statement released to the news media.


“The Bucciantinis’ extraordinary public service actively embodies Dr. Andrus’ motto, ‘To serve, not to be served,’” said Noël Bonam, AARP Maine state director.

“The AARP Maine Andrus Award acts as a symbol to our members and to the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” Bonam said.

The award committee received multiple nominations for the Bucciantinis, who were praised for their “can-do” spirit and their willingness to try new things, according to Margesson.

“Being around Carl and Joyce is being around two people who inspire you to do your best,” one nominator wrote. “They set a high bar for volunteering, and it pushes you to meet their standard or at least consider doing something yourself. They are the embodiment of the values in the Andrus Award.”

The couple have other irons in the fire.

Joyce, 66, is a tutor and tutor trainer for Literacy Volunteers of Androscoggin County.


Carl, 69, serves on the board of directors and executive committee of the Maine Education Association Retired, and is a member of the AARP Maine Volunteer Executive Council.

Both were longtime educators. Joyce worked in Alaska, before moving to Maine, where she taught language arts at Auburn Middle School for 20 years.

Carl taught elementary school in Dexter, Garland and Exeter, before serving as an elementary and middle school counselor in Auburn for 21 years.

The couple met at the middle school and were married in 2007.

They say it is difficult to volunteer at schools, especially during a pandemic, but there is one thing you can do: Be kind.

If a teacher sends home a note asking for a box of tissues or pencils, do it, Joyce said.

“I once had a legislator ask me, ‘What is it you teachers want?’” she said. “I said, ‘I want a pencil sharpener that works every day.’ It doesn’t take much.”

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