Giving back to the community that gave so much to her is the philosophy that drives Wilma Shelton to volunteer.
“Stayton has given a lot to me over my lifetime,” said Shelton, nominated by Mary Albert and chosen for this year’s Woman of the Year. “It’s my pleasure to be able to give back to the town.”
Shelton began volunteering in earnest after her husband, Dwight, died several years ago. They were lifelong residents of Stayton, where they raised son, Randy, and daughter, Rhonda (now Kraeber). Shelton has seven grandchildren.
A Farmer’s Insurance agent for 25 years, Shelton enjoyed meeting people and helping them plan for their needs at her Stayton office, which she moved to Sublimity three years before retiring because of her husband’s failing health. It’s her interest in people that fuels her volunteering, she said.
“I started with the Red Cross blood drive,” Shelton said. “I’m still doing that. It saves many lives. They tell me for every donor, three lives are saved. That’s really important to me.”
Her volunteer activities have grown to include helping to raise scholarships through the Santiam Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, working at the Stayton-Sublimity Chamber of Commerce once a week, helping distribute food at the Stayton Community Food Bank and assisting at a few other places in town.
“”She is one of the most generous, kind persons I know,” said Fran Loucks, who has known Sheltong for about three years. “She’s always there to lend a helping hand wherever she is needed.”
Loucks recently helped Shelton make pillowcase dresses to send to Haiti, a Stayton Christian Church project that they both found rewarding.
Char Bartosz and Mary Duncan know Shelton from her volunteer work through the Santiam Hospital Auxiliary. They both agree, “She’s a hard worker!”
But Shelton modestly said, “I’m the one that gets back joy from volunteering. I feel there’s a need and I can help fill it. It’s a blessing to be able to help.”
When she’s not volunteering, she’s busy playing cards with friends or chatting to folks while she jaunts around town.
“I love being able to go to the grocery store and meet people I know,” she said, commending the “thrill” of small town living.
Being named Woman of the Year is the second time Shelton has represented Stayton, an honor that humbles her, she said.
“The first time was a year out of high school,” she said. “I was a participant in the court of the Santiam Bean Festival, which was a big deal in those days, and received a key to the city.”
Of today’s honor, she said, “I was stunned! It was a total shock to me.”
But her friends agree it’s an honor well-deserved.
“If anybody needs Wilma, she’s there,” Loucks said. “She does it out of the kindness of her heart!”