article used with the permission of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association (with only slight alterations)
The Martin County Retired Teachers Association nominated Willis Haws, a long-time, faithful donor to Alice Lloyd College, for the 2012 KRTA Volunteer of the Year award. Mr. Haws received the award this year in recognition of the work he performed throughout 2012. His late wife was an alumna of the College, and, after her death, he established an endowed scholarship in her memory. The Shirley Bradley Haws Endowed Scholarship is presented each year to an Education major who has preferably attended Sheldon Clark High School (Ky.).
Mr. Haws is one of the most energetic and giving people with whom you could ever come in contact. His caring and giving goes beyond something that can be measured in hours, months or years. To understand what makes Mr. Haws so exceptional, it’s only fair that one piece of information is disclosed about him. Everything be does, he does from the confines of a wheelchair. In 1951, he was bitten by a cat and was given rabies injections. The shots were seen as experimental at that time. In October of that year, he was walking through his house and he fell. From that point forward he was never able to walk again without the use of crutches. He has had to use a wheelchair over the last few years, but he continues with his volunteerism. As hard as this may seem to believe, he will tell you that it is the best thing that ever happened to him. He often says without the accident he would have never met his late wife, Shirley, and that his life would have gone in an entirely different direction. It made him realize the importance of education as well as a close relationship with God.
Mr. Haws has been an active member of the Warfield United Methodist Church for 50 years. His close walk with the Lord led him to join the Gideons International in the early 1980s. He has spoken in literally hundreds of churches, spreading the great works of the Gideons and raising thousands of dollars for the organization in the process. He spoke in several churches in 2012.
When he came back to Martin County after attending college, he made it a priority to mentor any young adult who has lost the use of their legs. Having experienced the same feelings, he encourages them to believe in themselves when things aren’t going the best for them. The things he teaches them and the example he sets for them follows them for their whole lives.
One of the largest examples he sets is by being an active member in so many organizations that promote volunteerism. He received his 50-year Masonic pin in 2011. He became a Shriner in 1986 after his daughter was a patient at the Shriner’s Hospital in Lexington.
A founding member of the Martin County Kiwanis Club, he has been the spearhead for the Martin County Kiwanis’ Holiday Food Baskets for over 25 years. He coordinates fundraising, orders the food to be given, and supervises the logistics of distribution. Each year the program awards everything needed for a Christmas meal, along with other canned goods and toys, to 400 families in need.
Mr. Haws has also been active in these organizations throughout the years:
- Inez Order of the Eastern Star
- Parent Teacher Association
- Lions Club
- Christian Appalachian Homes
- Dietrich Educational Trust Fund Advisory Commission
- Martin County Board of Health
- Martin County Senior Citizens
- Big Sandy Community Action Agency
- Mountain Mental Health Board
- Martin County Housing Board
- Martin County Water District #2, Commission
- Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels
- Highland’s Regional Medical Center Auxiliary (Over 800 hours volunteered)
Mr. Haws has been incredibly active as an instructor for AARP’s 55 Alive Driving Class since 1994. These classes entail him driving as many as two hours each way, then teaching the four-hour class. Last year he taught seventeen driving classes. He completes well over 100 tax forms each year on a volunteer basis for those in need. He has done this for over forty years and spends up to thirty hours each week during tax season to make sure that every person who asks is accommodated. He feels that a person on a fixed income or with a low income should NEVER have to pay to have their tax returns completed. Mr. Haws has been a member of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association since 1991. During that time, he has been president of both the Martin County chapter and the Big Sandy District. Most in this area see him as the most knowledgeable person regarding the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, as well as KRTA. Since his 1991 retirement, he has missed very few KRTA meetings and often goes out of the area to speak to KRTA groups. He can often be found talking to other retired teachers about pending state legislation and its implications regarding the retired teachers’ system. He is a willing volunteer who gives with all his heart to his community to make it a better place to live and work. It is wonderful to live in a place where you know when there is a need there will be people to help fill that need. Willis Haws is this kind of person. He gives more time in a month than many do in a lifetime. More than time, though, he gives his talent, his knowledge and his heart.
Alice Lloyd College is grateful to Mr. Haws for his generosity and leadership, and we congratulate him for this much-deserved award.
*Published in KRTA News, a quarterly publication of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, Volume XLVII, Number 4, June 2013