SIDNEY — Kathy Bray was named the 2021 Outstanding Senior Citizen for Shelby County by the Shelby County Coalition on Aging.
“I’m astounded, for one thing. I think there are so many other people who are deserving, but it’s a wonderful honor,” Bray said.
Bray was nominated for Outstanding Senior Citizen for Shelby County by Ron Argabright. The Outstanding Senior Citizen for Shelby County is part of the Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2’s celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM) in May. The agency seeks nominations of individuals who have made invaluable contributions to their community in a variety of areas including volunteer service, education, politics, and more. The theme of this year’s OAM was Communities of Strength, to recognize the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
“She’s done a lot for the Senior Center, and for her neighbors. Her neighbor, Mrs. Jackson, she’ll shovel her snow. She’s just a nice person period,” Argabright said.
“Modest is (one) word that describes Kathy. She does what she does because she wants to be a blessing to others. Recognition is not her goal, it is just a by product of the works she does for others,” Rachel Hale, executive director of the Senior Center of Sidney-Shelby County, said.
Bray volunteers at the Senior Center by leading several exercise classes, such as moove n groove, chair exercise, and chair yoga. In addition to this, she participates in line dancing, shuffleboard and pickleball and according Hale, Bray has helped increase attendance in these activities by inviting and encouraging other seniors to make changes for their own healthy lifestyles.
“She doesn’t know a stranger and is always quick to welcome new members and making them feel at home when they come to class. The word ‘no’ is not part of her vocabulary when it comes to a situation that requires helping someone,” Hale said. “Her zest for life radiates from her and anyone that meets her is quickly found to be smiling and trying new things. She attends the dances at the Senior Center and encourages others to come and join in on the fun.”
Bray is also the chairperson for the meal provided at the Senior Day at the Shelby County Fair. As chairperson, she organizes a group of volunteers to assemble 500 lunches each year.
“It is a lot of hard work and depending on the temperatures, hot work. But Kathy does it all with a smile because she knows that it will be a blessing to so many people,” Hale said.
Most notably, Bray worked for the city of Sidney for many years, starting out at the cemetery as a part-time employee as a mower for a few years. From there, she worked in the sanitation department for 20 years, before moving into underground utilitize for 10 years and eventually retiring. Her favorite part of working for the city was the people, and she said she learned “what a great group of people work for the city.
“It’s amazing how nice the people who live in Sidney are, and that everybody is more than willing to help,” Bray said. “It was a nice experience. I never really expected, when I first started, that I would stay that many years, but I’m glad I did. It was a wonderful job, and I don’t know that I ever had a day I didn’t like my job.”