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A lifetime of service

Oak Crest resident awarded for work with Active & Retired Federal Employees Association

Created date

August 23rd, 2011

If there s any truth in the quote, In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy, then it explains why Harold Forst is such a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. It s that helpful nature that compels the former Havre de Grace resident to volunteer as a service officer with the National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), helping federal employees with questions regarding health care, pension and survivor benefits, Maryland estate consideration, and Social Security. I ve always had a knack for figuring things out, says Harold, who fields calls for NARFE from his two-bedroom apartment home at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md. A widower and father of two, Harold moved to Oak Crest in 2009 so he could enjoy a worry-free lifestyle and focus on what he loves to do best: help people. For me, personally, gaining knowledge and then sharing it is very exciting, says Harold. Living here has been great. I m able to use my second bedroom as a den, and I don t have to worry about house maintenance or cooking meals. A retired electrical engineer for the U.S. Army out of Aberdeen, Md., Harold has been performing service officer duties for over 20 years. His service abruptly began two decades ago when he spoke up at a NARFE-sponsored Medicare training session. Honestly, the speaker didn t know what he was talking about, so of course I had to put in my two cents worth, he says. Lo and behold, at the next election I was appointed a service officer.

Helping hand

Harold s quest for knowledge isn t new. After he was married in 1963, he started doing his own taxes after spotting mistakes in the tax documents he had professionally prepared. I had never done my own taxes before and so I paid to have them prepared for me, says Harold. After I brought the documents home and read over the 1040 instruction manual, I discovered mistakes, so I made the corrections and I ve been doing my own taxes ever since. Serving as an AARP Tax Aide counselor for the last 27 years, 25 in Harford County and the last two years at Oak Crest, Harold prepares taxes for free and helps people with their tax-related questions. I like knowing what the latest issues and problems are and trying to find solutions and ways around them, says Harold. I m also not shy, so I don t mind telling people what I think I ve learned. As part of his contributions as a Maryland Federation service officer, Harold assisted in preparing a Maryland Service Officer s Manual and Service Officer Training Notes to supplement the national organization s FH-10 Chapter Service Officer Guide. He has also provided training for service officers of the other 34 chapters of the federation. For his ongoing service as NARFE president and service officer for Chapter 1522 serving southeast Harford County and all of Cecil County, Harold recently earned the 2011 Service Officer of the Year award for the Maryland Federation and NARFE Region II. He received recognition in May of this year at the Maryland State NARFE convention held in Bowie, Md. In between helping others, Harold spends time in Oak Crest s on-site woodshop. He s also a member of the computer group at Oak Crest and enjoys salsa, ballroom, and square dancing.