Good morning to all of you reading your Sunday paper and checking out the latest “goings on” at the Shawnee Senior Center. However today is not about the Senior Center. Surprised? The interesting thing about the Senior Center is that it also houses programs that are “Senior Centered” but not under the Kate and Crew umbrella and one of those is what I'm going to tell you about today.

Good morning to all of you reading your Sunday paper and checking out the latest “goings on” at the Shawnee Senior Center. However today is not about the Senior Center. Surprised? The interesting thing about the Senior Center is that it also houses programs that are “Senior Centered” but not under the Kate and Crew umbrella and one of those is what I’m going to tell you about today.

VIP, or better known as Volunteers Impacting People, is under the direction of Thixe Totty and offices here in the administrative offices of the Center. It’s an easy connection because all of the volunteers at the Senior Center report the hours that they volunteer to VIP. Now as you sit there shaking your head and saying to yourself, “what is that woman talking about?” I’m gonna try to explain.

But first, a little history about Thixe Totty. A local Shawnee gal, she is a graduate of Shawnee High School and the Oklahoma Banking and Business School in Oklahoma City. She is married to Delbert (for 52 years) and has two children and three grandchildren. She taught Math and Bible studies at Liberty Academy for 18 years, then moved on to be the first director of the Unzner Centre (child advocacy program in Shawnee) for four years. From there she went on to become the Director of the CART child advocacy program for Canadian County in El Reno and was there for four years also.

Interesting side point here, in 2005 Bill Shields called Thixe and asked to meet her on a Sunday afternoon at Arby’s to discuss a new program at COCAA (Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency). She agreed and in sweat suit and sneakers she arrived where shortly thereafter he offered her a job conducting a study for the Department of Commerce that COCAA was to run. And that started Thixe’s service with COCAA’s programs.

From that nine month gig, Thixe took on the volunteer program (originally RSVP) that became the VIP program. There are well over 200 volunteers that donate their time and energy to 49 different “Stations” here in the Pottawatomie County area.

A “Station” is a place that needs the help of volunteers to effectively run their program and Thixe’s volunteers allow them to do just that. As an example the “Meals on Wheels” program could not function if all those volunteers were not delivering all those meals to home bound adults. Another example would be the “Shoes That Fit” program for elementary school children that exists through the time and effort of volunteers.

Volunteers turn in their hours monthly. They get paid for mileage (up to 114 miles a month, that’s less than $50) but that’s not the incentive that drives them to continue to volunteer. That incentive comes from a strong desire to help those who are unable to help themselves for whatever reason they may have. Volunteers are always needed and the amount of time you are able to donate to whichever project you pick is always appreciated by Thixe and the people who need your help.

To quote Thixe, “If you enjoy giving your time and experience, try volunteering with VIP!” To call VIP and volunteer or just to check it out, the number is 275-7910. And to prove that everyone can find time to volunteer, Thixe volunteers her time to the Shawnee Senior Center by being a member of the Board of Directors for the Center. Her insight and “ability to cut to the quick” comes in handy on the Center’s Board.. She also has an Advisory Board of her own, that helps to shape VIP programs. There is just one more of Thixe’s quotes that I would like to share and that is “Many of our recipients never meet the volunteers or donors, but they know someone cared and this is what makes my job so special.”

Now just as an aside from me to you, the reader, there is definitely an additional reason to volunteer in case you need just a little tiny push to call 275-7910. Thixe and her cohort at VIP (Kathy Gatz) put on the biggest and best VIP Volunteer Banquet at the end of each year that you could possibly imagine. The food is not only great, but the entertainment they bring in each year is fantabulous and the donated door prizes are definitely first class. So come on down to the Center, say “Hi” to us as you walk on through to get to Thixe’s office and sign on to spend some of your spare time Volunteering. See you at the Center!!!

Thixe Totty will be on KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 or AM 1450) on Wednesday morning, August 9th at 8:35am talking to “Mike in the Morning” about the VIP opportunities for volunteering.

And remember at the Shawnee Senior Center “Age is just a number”. The website is www.SHAWNEESENIORS.ORG and our Facebook page is “Shawnee Senior Center.”