Woodward, Okla. —
You might see her helping with meals at the Woodward Senior Citizens Center. Or volunteering to deliver those meals to the homebound. Or perhaps she will be found helping to put together packages for military members serving overseas.
She is Pat Lynes, and recently she was recognized for her extensive volunteer efforts through the federal Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which is sponsored locally by Opportunities, Inc. of Watonga.
On Tuesday, Lynes was presented with a 2012 RSVP Spotlight Award, which included a legislative citation signed by State Representative Mike Sanders.
Lynes said she was "shocked" to receive the honor, "and was really happy to get it."
While Lynes' selection as the recipient of a 2012 RSVP Volunteer Spotlight Award was announced during the RSVP annual banquet last week, she herself wasn't aware of the honor until the surprise presentation on Tuesday.
She said one of her friends had told her the senior center would be serving cinnamon rolls on Tuesday and invited Lynes to join her for the special treat.
When she arrived at the center she said, "I saw that a group of my friends were all there sitting at a table together and I wondered what was going on."
Then Elise Solloway, with Panhandle Nutrition, began speaking about the numerous accomplishments of a volunteer who was about to receive an award for their extensive service, which included delivering meals for Panhandle Nutrition.
As Solloway enumerated the volunteer's other achievements, Lynes said things began to sound familiar.
"I said, that sounds like me," she said. And indeed it was her.
"I didn't know I was going to get an award," she said. "I couldn't believe it."
Lynes doesn't focus much on how many hours she is putting in, but said others estimated she had spent around 960 hours volunteering over the previous year. That equals 120 8-hour days.
LYNES' BUSY VOLUNTEERING SCHEDULE
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Lynes said she delivers meals to people who can't get out for one reason or another, such as those just returning from a hospital stay or who are confined to a wheelchair.
She said she even volunteers to cover other routes when needed because the meal delivery is one of her favorite volunteer activities.
"Sometimes, I may be the only person they see in a day," she said of the delivery clients.
Being there for others means a lot to Lynes. Because in addition to the meal deliveries, she said she will occasionally sit with one woman while the woman's husband goes to doctors' appointments.
Another regular activity for Lynes are the weekly Woodward County Hugs Project meetings on Tuesdays. The Hugs Project is a group that helps prepare care packages to send to deployed troops.
She said the packages include things such as "clothing, like pajamas for injured soldiers, and packages of candy or gum, some things that remind them of home."
She said during Christmastime, she and the other volunteers made more than 600 holiday stockings to send to the soldiers, stuffed with sweet treats.
Lynes is also involved with fundraising and raising awareness for Polycystic Kidney Disease, an affliction that plagued her late husband, Carl. She's also involved with collecting money for cancer research.
"I also donate blood and make chemo caps," she said.
REASON FOR VOLUNTEERING
So why does Lynes devote so much of her time to fulfilling the needs of others, and doing it for no pay?
"It gives me a sense of purpose," she said. "It puts a warm feeling in my heart."
As to why she volunteers with the specific organizations that she does, Lynes said it is "because they do things that mean something special to me."
That is particularly true with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) research since her husband died from the disease.
"I would like to see the disease (PKD) to get to a point where it is like Polio, where we can talk about it where it's in the past and not doing what it does now," Lynes said.
She said she also volunteers simply because there is the need for it.
"If look around always someone who can use a little bit of help," she said.
In particular with the meal deliveries, Lynes said, "you can tell they (clients) have a need for it. A lot of times you are sure they eat half for lunch and the other half for their evening meal."
Lynes said volunteering is just a part of who she is.
"I've always been kind of a caregiver, when think back on my life from early on," she said.
WHAT RSVP DOES
Ashley Moore, the Opportunities, Inc. RSVP Coordinator, said Lynes was nominated by the Woodward Senior Citizens Center for the volunteer award due to her active spirit.
Lynes was one of 5 recipients across Northwest Oklahoma who were recently presented with RSVP Spotlight Awards.
"There was a person selected to get the award from 5 of the 7 Opportunities, Inc. counties," Moore said. "Two counties do not participate."
RSVP serves Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Kingfisher and Woodward counties.
Officials at Opportunities Inc. said the RSVP program is for persons age 55 or better. RSVP helps numerous community groups with staffing by matching up senior volunteers with those groups.
In the Woodward area, Moore said this includes providing volunteers through the Woodward Regional Hospital Auxiliary and through the Woodward Senior Center.
But the line doesn't stop there, she said.
If a volunteer wants to do something to help a civic club program, at a church, during a sporting event, at a school or at a community happening, for example, they may turn in their time for credit from RSVP, Moore said.
The trained volunteers may choose where and how they wish to serve. They may do something that takes advantage of their lifetime of experience, or they may opt to learn new skills.
For more information about the volunteer program or to sign up to participate in RSVP, contact Moore at (580) 623-7283, ext. 7029.
Editor's Note: Assistant Editor Rowynn Ricks contributed to this report.