Thirty years ago Betty Jo Harvey moved to Wichita Falls when her husband took a job at the Conoco Terminal.
She said she needed something to occupy her time while he worked and as you will see this Spirit of Texoma Award winner has certainly found ways to keep busy over the years while serving others.
Betty Jo Harvey says, "I do it because I need something to keep me busy."
It is hard to believe Betty Jo Harvey ever has any down time, it was 30 years ago when the Hotter N Hell Hundred riders came rolling by her home.
Harvey: "The first year we were here all these bicycles came out of the gate out at the stadium and I thought what on Earth is going on over there...so I walked over there to watch and as I did a little girl about 8 years old fell off her bicycle and she had a little scatch. I don't know why I had bandaids in my pocket. Mainly I carry them because I am a nurse, but I kind of doctored here and then some lady said you need to come help us and join us and do that and she said apparently you are a nurse and I said yes. So that is how I got started with my volunteer service."
She has stayed involved with the big ride every since, even though her volunteerism has shifted gears.
Harvey: "They've put me in the air conditioned building now, they say at my age I need to cool off."
Betty Jo has also had a hand in getting other programs in motion.
Harvey: "I was helping some of my neighbors taking them to the grocery store in my car and it kind of hit on me that if there had to be a lot more people that needed to go to the grocery store."
That's when the grocery cart program was started for seniors.
Harvey: "We would just go by their house and pick them up and then take them home and unload their groceries on the kitchen table."
Back when it all started about 20 people would load up to go shopping and that ride to and from the store cost them just 35 cents.
Harvey: "They were people that were on a fixed income and they didn't really have that kind of money and they were tickled to death to be able to go to grocery stores by themselves."
Betty Jo also brought great joy to kiddos in the community with programs such as the Red Cross Thunderbuckets. She visited every first grade class in 11 Texoma counties teaching kids how to be prepared when severe weather strikes.
Harvey: "The kids were so excited, about it because they got a flash light, cookies and a drink with the instructions to not eat the cookies or drink the drink until they got home. Forget it, they were gone before I left the building."
Thank you letters poured in from kids all over Texoma who knew her as the Bucket Lady or Miss Betty, she says she recently ran into a man who still has his red bucket at home.
Harvey: "I said yes I am Miss Betty and he said boy I still have that little red bucket, so to me that is pleasant."
Her service to the Red Cross traveled far beyond those buckets as part of the agencies Disaster Relief team she has helped out folks in the midst of more than 30 major disasters.
Harvey: "I have been called out in the middle of the night for some things and I go. It is not a problem. I kind of have a guiding thing behind me that kind of pushes and says you can do this, so I do it and I enjoy it so much knowing that I am helping someone. That is how I live my life."
When Hurricane Bret slammed the Texas coast, Betty Jo and the team hit the raod. One of her first major assignments was the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Harvey: "It really is kind of bad, there is a lot of tragedy there is a lot of hurt and there are a lot of things you kind of have to overlook, but I feel like as a nurse I am doing what I can."
Over the years Betty Jo says that "can do" spirit has allowed her to donate over 100,000 hours to others. So when she does somehow find some free time to herself, most often you'll find her busy hands at work creating something beautiful, most likely to share with someone else once it's finished.
Harvey: "This is a good thing and a relaxing thing for me."
Betty Jo, a true example of what it means to share the Spirit of Texoma.
Betty Jo continues to help he young in her role as a volunteer in the Early Headstart Program and she also lends Santa a hand as Mrs. Claus at Christmas time.
She also still helps the young at heart, she serves as an ombudsman and visits the elderly in nursing homes.
Owens and Brumley Funeral Homes congratulate her on her Spirit Award.
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