Life is full of choices on how to spend your days outside of your job and family. For many Keller residents, their free time is spent being part of something bigger than themselves.
No matter what your interest, your age or your station in life, Keller abounds with volunteer opportunities. Groups are all looking for new members and it’s easy to join.
After talking with many of the groups in town, it’s clear that the time spent volunteering gets paid back tenfold.
“It’s service before self,” says Jason Sandlin, president of the Keller Lions Club. “If you’ve got a desire to give back to your community and you want to be involved in something that is a benefit to the community that you live and work in, that’s all we do.”
Greater Keller Women’s Club
The Greater Keller Women’s Club is a group of community-minded women who hosts book clubs, fashion shows, game nights and craft auctions while also raising money for charities and nonprofits through its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Greater Keller Women’s Club Foundation.
The club was first formed as a way to bring Keller women together for fun and friendship, though community service has always been an integral part of the organization. For example, in addition to hosting speakers at their monthly luncheons, the club provides the food for the Valentine’s Day lunch at the Keller Senior Center and puts up Christmas trees the fire stations, the library and the police stations for Christmas.
“We provide a way for people to volunteer,” Sherman says. “We volunteer in the schools with reading buddies. We also volunteer at community events.”
Caroline Sherman joined the Greater Keller Women’s Club in 2007 and now she’s president of the organization.
“They were very welcoming to me and that’s what’s great about the Keller Women’s Club,” says Sherman, a British native. “We have women in all different places in their life and they all connect in the club.
The Greater Keller Women’s Club has 255 members but is always looking for more. The 21-year-old group has donated more than $1.18 million to the community through its Foundation.
Groups helped by the Women’s Club Foundation include the Battered Women’s Foundation and Christ’s Haven for Children.
Volunteer opportunities abound for members. The biggest event of the year is the Garden of Roses Fashion Show at Texas Motor Speedway. The majority of the money raised goes to the Foundation to fund scholarships for seniors in the Keller ISD as well as for large donations to local charities. The next fashion show is April 1.
And the Foundation is about to get its own facility on Keller Parkway to rent out for events and weddings.
This June, the Bowden Event Center, a 44,234-square-foot event center on Keller Parkway between the Landscape Systems of Texas Garden Center and Keystone Church, is set to open. Though owned by the Foundation, the Bowden Event Center was funded entirely by generous donations from the community, Sherman says. The Foundation will run the center, and event rental dollars from the building will help fund the Foundation’s charitable giving. For rental information, contact Kyle Boen at email@example.com or Esteva Bargo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keller Lions Club
For 68 years, the Keller Lions Club has given back to the community by hosting events and raising money.
Causes it supports include Wounded Warriors, Eagle Scouts, teen pregnancy assistance, youth sports, Phillip’s Wish and the Community Storehouse.
“Our mission from a local level is to make the community a better place,” says Sandlin, the president.
The Keller Lions Club is perhaps best known for its annual barbecue competition in October. The most recent barbecue raised enough money to help four charities for the first time.
“Every member in the club is involved,” Sandlin says. “It’s a two- or three-day event. Being a part of that is one of my favorite things in the club. We had 16 briskets that we cooked. We put them in sandwiches and gave them away all day long.”
The local chapter also supports the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville. The camp gives children with disabilities, cancer or diabetes a place to have fun and interact with peers.
The Keller group donates labor, money and equipment to the camp which is free to campers.
The Keller Lions Club meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at its facility, 532 Keller Parkway. For information on joining, visit kellerlionsclub.com.
Keller Community Emergency Response Team
When the going gets tough for the Keller Fire Department, the Community Emergency Response Team is never far behind.
CERT volunteers support the Keller Fire Department with whatever it needs, whether it’s crowd control at a parade or drinks and snacks at a large house fire or car wreck.
Linda Taylor, a journalist, first got involved when she did a story on the first Citizens Fire Academy in 2002. She worked the hoses, went up in the ladder truck and got to do a ride-out with the fire department.
She was hooked and went on to found CERT along with Mike Alexander in 2004.
“I just absolute fell in love with it. They’re all such nice guys,” Taylor says. “They put their life on the line every single day. I wanted to stay involved and help give back a little bit to the community.”
Today, CERT has 29 active members with about 46 members who have participated in the past. They provided 1,550 volunteer hours in the first three quarters of 2016.
CERT’s rehab team responds to calls where the firefighters will be on-scene for a an extended period. They never miss a call.
“We take our truck out and we provide snacks, Gatorade, water and cooling chairs,” Taylor says.
The house fires are probably the toughest part of being on CERT’s rehab team. Taylor says, “You see people watching everything they own go up in flames.”
The team also has amateur radio specialists who monitor transmissions during severe weather events.
“We just want to give back in a way and the fire department is very, very good to us,” Taylor says. “We have a camaraderie with all our members and with the fire department. They make sure we have the equipment that we need. Those guys are superheroes.”
A new CERT class starts Feb. 7 and meets Tuesday nights at 6:30 p.m. Visit kellercert.org for more information.
Rotary Club of Keller
From the flag-lined streets to the Imagination Station playground at Johnson Road Park, the Rotary Club of Keller can be seen doing good all over the city.
The 17-year-old service group meets at noon every Tuesday at the Sky Creek Ranch Golf Course. It’s been so successful that it has spun off a morning group called the Golden Triangle Rotary Club.
After the split, the original Rotary Club of Keller has about 50 members and is always looking for more. President Cindy Johnson encourages anyone interested in learning more to attend one of the luncheons or give her a call at 817-229-4832.
“It’s an awesome service organization that they would be proud to be a part of,” Johnson says. “It’s all about giving back to the community. If they have a heart like that and want to give back through service in the community, Rotary is the place to be.”
The Star Spangled Street program puts U.S. flags in front of businesses on Keller Parkway and other major streets every Presidents’ Day, Fourth of July, Patriot Day, Flag Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Residents can also have flags displayed in front of their house. It costs $48 for one year with six holidays. The Rotary Club members wake up at the crack of dawn to put 700 flags up around Keller.
Children who enjoy the Imagination Station playground at Johnson Road Park can thank the Rotary Club, which led the effort to redo it. Other service organizations that helped include the Lions Club, Greater Keller Women’s Club, Golden Triangle Rotary Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
The club also stepped in to fix up Mount Gilead Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair. The cemetery has veterans from as far back as the Texas Revolution and Civil War.
The Rotary Club formed a Mount Gilead Cemetery Association to preserve the cemetery, including putting in headstones for graves that lacked markers. Find out more information at www.rotaryclubofkeller.org/.
Golden Triangle Rotary Club
While the noon Rotary Club of Keller has enjoyed its share of success, the lunchtime meetings can be difficult for members who work in other cities.
That prompted Joan Manning and others to start the Golden Triangle Rotary Club, which meets Thursdays at 7 a.m. at the Main Street Cafe in Keller.
The group officially started in April 2015, but was a satellite of the larger Rotary Club for a year before that. The members of this group are generally younger, in their 30s and 40s.
“We attracted a group of people that work other places,” Manning says. “We have a very dynamic young group, which is different from a lot of Rotary groups. They can do this at 7 in the morning before they go to the office.”
The Golden Triangle group focuses entirely on raising money for Keller ISD. Over the last two years, the group has raised $4,000 for Casey’s Kids, a program that helps disadvantages students in KISD.
But the club is gearing up to do much more.
“We’re working towards our first independent fundraiser that will be in the fall of 2017,” Manning says. “We’re still planning.”
On Dec. 22, the club packed snack packs and gave them to the Community Storehouse. The food was given to children on the free and reduced lunch program so they could eat during the winter break.
Manning says if anyone is interested in joining, they should attend a meeting at the Main Street Cafe. View more information about the group on their facebook page, www.facebook.com/goldentrianglerotary/.