Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

June 12, 2012

Bradley: Volunteer needs smile, loving heart

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah native JoAnn Bradley believes nothing in life is more rewarding than helping someone else.

Her volunteer efforts have centered on children, with organizations such as Kiwanis and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country, but also include serving military families through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary.

“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or have any talent at all to be a volunteer; all you need is a smile and a loving heart,” said Bradley.

In 2001, Bradley retired as city clerk, and in 2003 was elected to the city council, where she served for eight years.

“I am blessed to have been born and raised in Tahlequah, and have lived here all my life except for the 20 years my husband was in the military,” she said.

Her love for volunteering comes from her parents’ and grandmother’s examples.

“Of course, in those days, they were just helping their neighbors and the community; they didn’t call it volunteering,” she said. “This was just a normal part of my life.”

The VFW Auxiliary has been a big part of her life, Bradley said.

“These ladies work very hard helping veterans and their families with whatever needs they have,” she said. “My mother and I worked many years helping with wild onion and egg dinners, bingo, parades, and anything else we could do to help the veterans. We have gone to schools and taught the children how to salute the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. [We’ve] visited veterans hospitals and retirement homes for veterans, and done our best to make people aware of what the veterans in this country have sacrificed for all of us.”

She chose to volunteer for the veterans groups because all the men in her family served in the military. She’s always been a champion for children and the elderly.

“Children can’t help themselves, and the elderly have always been the caregivers and now need others to care for them,” said Bradley.

For two decades, she’s been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Tahlequah.

“Kiwanis helps children, not only here, but all over the world,” said Bradley. “We also encourage children to read, have learning camps for school-age children, a Key Club for high school young people and Circle K Club for college young adults and Little Olympics.”

Bradley also enjoys helping CASA, as well as working closely with the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce appeals to Bradley because it promotes both the community and business.

“I started volunteering way back, when we had the ‘Hillbilly Hoe Down,’ and have continued all these years,” she said. “David Moore has done an outstanding job of leading the Chamber to great heights. Without volunteers, this could not have been accomplished.”

For five years, she’s volunteered with the Oklahoma State Council on Aging.

“I thoroughly enjoy visiting with senators and representatives in Oklahoma City, discussing the pros and cons of bills concerning the elderly,” she said. “Our mission is getting lawmakers to adopt laws that will help the elderly and keep them safe.”

Since December, she’s volunteered with NEOHealth, and said she’s amazed at the progress they are making.

Bradley also volunteers for the Thompson House.

“Last week, we entertained the Oklahoma State Preservation group of about 150 people from all over the state, and they all bragged on the house, the town and all the many volunteers who were giving tours and greeting each and everyone,” she said.

When she’s not volunteering, Bradley enjoys traveling.

“While my husband was in the service, I had the opportunity to travel almost all over the world and I got bit by the travel bug,” said Bradley. “I have been in every state, visited every country in Europe, been to Australia, New Zealand, the Holy Land, South America and I guess everywhere except the Far East. One thing on my bucket list that I will be doing in the spring is going to the Panama Canal.”

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