Our local chapters carry out our mission of volunteering for communities and advancing local education initiatives.
Outstanding Volunteer Clock Winners
Nancy Wheeler was instrumental in the knitting and distribution of over 1000 scarves, hats and mittens to school children and others in need during 2017. Nancy and her crew worked with the Loving Hands Committee at the Westminster Church to distribute these lovingly made items to 11 area elementary schools, the Carmelite Home of East Chicago and the UCC Church of Christ Angel Tree. The “crew” helped with the annual VA Holiday Dinner and the Salvation Army Mitten Tree. Nancy, also, was a partner in a group who hand-made afghans, lap robes and quilts which were donated to residents of assisted living facilities. When Nancy sets her crochet hooks and yarn down, it is to serve at the Greater Hammond Food Pantry and United Postal Service Food Drives assisting with pick-ups, sorting and deliveries to families in need.
Ron Myer is like so many of the retired teachers in Indiana, he is busier now than when he was in the classroom. He also uses his skills from his career as he volunteers with the 4H Learning Center. He leads elementary classes through the AgMuseum to explain the methods of agriculture of the past. Additionally, Ron manages and helps to create the many displays at the center. Ron uses his math teaching experience as he serves as the VP at the Whitley County Historical Society. He is also active as an officer and Chairman of the Maintenance Committee for the Council on Aging and the Clerk of Sessions at the Troy Presbyterian Church. The Whitley County RTA members say that “Ron makes Whitley County a better place with his warm smile, kind nature and many talents.”
Mary Burrous lends her talents to many organizations in and around Cass County. She can be found each Sunday teaching classes for junior high confirmation students at the Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church. She also assists at the church by visiting persons unable to attend services, preparing communion and setting up weekly services. Mary is the president and one of the co-founders of the Southeastern Buddy Bags, Inc. This organization sends home food bags each week to qualified children attending Lewis Cass schools. She orders food monthly, finds volunteers and schedules those helpers who will pack and distribute the food bags. She also conducts the six board meetings of the organization. Mary has written and obtained many grants to help finance and maintain Buddy Bags. The local Lions Club helped Mary with the Buddy Bags as together, they purchased and distributed books for students. Additionally, she assists the Lions Club with the fish fries as she is a certified food handler. Mary volunteers in kindergarten classes each Friday morning at Lewis Cass Elementary teaching reading skills. Mary is active with the Cass County RTA as the Recording Secretary. She also volunteers with the League of Women Voters serving as the secretary and helping with voter registration.
ERSEL (BUZZ) BURGESS
Ersel Burgess truly has enjoyed his many volunteer activities through the years. He enthusiastically supports and participates in every event sponsored by the Clay County Retired Teachers Association as well as the local Rotary Club. Ersel’s musical talent was evident from an early age and he takes his career as a music educator into his participation with several local musical groups. He is a member of the Brazil Concert Band and the Jackson Township Community Band. These bands play locally for festivals and community activities such as the 4th of July and the Veteran’s Day celebrations, Christmas in the Park and weekly concerts in the park. Buzz also performs with the Fabulous 40 Dance Band. Ersel uses his musical talent at his church as he participates in the choir. He also sings with several community choirs. Ersel received the honor of being inducted into the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame. Through his love of music, Buzz has provided inspiration to students as well as countless hours of enjoyment to the Wabash Valley community.
Anne Anderson has enjoyed her volunteer service as the efforts show her musical and acting talents. Anne is a valuable member of the Unity Baptist Church Choir. At the church she is active with the Word of Life Program and a valuable participant with the Daily Vacation Bible School. Anne continues using her talents as she sings with the Voices Choir, a Franklin community choir. She also is an active member of the Matinee Musicals. When not performing, she can be found almost daily at rehearsal in her home or at the various venues.
James McKinney has been working during 2017 to develop and facilitate the start-up and implementation of a high school aviation program at the Marion Municipal Airport. This program is designed to provide students with the preparation needed for a career in aviation as mechanics, pilots or airport management personnel. Jim’s goal is to have classes with a curriculum that will give the students a good background as they pursue further education for a possible career in the field of aviation. Additionally, Jim has been assisting college and high school interns. Through this endeavor, the students experience airport management, airport and airplane maintenance, marketing, promotion and planning. The students produced a video that is being distributed to businesses hoping to relocate to the Marion area. The success of the intern program has been their employment of the graduates in the field of aviation. Each of these volunteer projects give Jim the equivalence a full-time job.
Donna Browne along with teaching a Sunday School class at her church, leads a group called Lasting Impressions. This organization consists of active, talented seniors at Mill Race Center in Columbus who work all year to provide quality entertainment for groups in the area. They sing, dance, and stage dramatic presentations. Most of the programs are free as Donna and her performers donate their money, time, talent and equipment. In addition to their other shows, they produce 6 dinner theater shows in Franklin and Nashville, Indiana. Donna chooses the themes, plans for the staging, makes the props and costumes, searches for music and writes out the skits. She also shows her dancing ability as she does the choreography, too. The performers rehearse to memorize their parts and assure professional performances. As an example of their dedication, from Veteran’s Day through Christmas in 2017, the Lasting Impressions gave 9 performances to mostly adult audiences. During the year their talents are exhibited to groups of all ages. Donna strives to make a “Lasting Impression” on people in addition to keeping active minds and bodies for the seniors. The BCRTA members say that it is obvious that these productions are a mission of love and accomplishment for Donna.
Frances Walden demonstrates her talents with several groups in and around Monroe County. She bakes cookies for Veteran’s Day and makes stuffed bears for “Hugga Bear” for pediatric patients and the police department. In her spare time, she tutors at a local kindergarten and visits residents at area nursing homes. Additionally, she performs with a singing group, “The Music Makers.” They perform for a variety of local groups. Donna is both a member of the planning committee and a participant with the senior games. She works on the “Retired Senior Volunteer Program.” She also serves as the cashier at the Opportunity House, a non-profit store with profits going to the MCUM Day Care and the local emergency pantry. Additionally, she helps the homeless at the Interfaith Winter Shelter.
Frederick Clark is a well-traveled, knowledgeable volunteer. He goes from his home in Jasper to several locations to act as an expert, guide and docent. He is a valued tour guide at the West Baden Springs and the French Lick Hotels. He gives tours of the public places in the hotels and tells the history of each. His favorite groups to lead are the youth and school groups. Fred also volunteers at the Dubois County Museum where he is a member of the Collections Group. This committee logs in and stores all artifacts that have been donated or loaned to the museum. They also keep records of each item so that the artifacts can be easily found. Additionally, Fred lends his expertise to the Dubois County Historical Society where he serves as the treasurer. He assists the society in doing research on the history of the county and storing and republishing books about the county.
Judy Saunders is said to be the busiest volunteer in and around the Washington County area. She is very involved with her Catholic Church. She teaches the First Communion Classes, prepares and serves dinners for funerals and any other project that needs to be done including acting as a secretary for the church. During Lent she collects books to sell to raise money for the CARE Pregnancy Center. Judy drives cancer patients from Washington County to Louisville for chemo treatments. She stays with them during the sessions. Judy is involved with The Quilters’ Guild. This group uses their skills to make quilts that are donated to organizations that use the quilts to raise money for their operation. Another quilting group she assists is the Senior Citizens in Washington County. They make quilts and teddy bears for the Sheriff ’s Department. Judy volunteers at an area elementary school and many other organizations such as PEO, Women’s Study Club and the Hospital Auxiliary. In addition, she serves as the secretary of the WCRTA.