ActivePaper Archive Volunteer projects make life fulfilling - Oklahoman, 1/26/2003

Life of Service

Volunteer projects make life fulfilling

Picture

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND

Dr. Kay Goebel stands with the painting of an American Indian mother and child she and artist Mike Larsen created at last year’s Festival of the Arts. The Oklahoma City resident is involved with

DR. Kay Goebel says volunteer work adds another enriching dimension to her already full life.

“As you get older, I think you realize the more you give, the more you receive,” the Oklahoma City resident said. “If I didn’t have all this volunteer work, I think life would be so boring and depressing.”

Instead, the 73-year-old’s life is fulfilling and busy. Apart

Kay Goebel

from working as a psychologist in private practice, she is a wife, mother and grandmother. She volunteers for organizations as diverse as the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Arts Council, Planned Parenthood and Calm Waters.

“I tell people doing this volunteer work is how I relax. It’s so much fun, and I’ve made so many friends,” Goebel said. “If I took that out, my life would be greatly diminished.”

Goebel and her family moved to Oklahoma in 1967 when the oil company husband Harry worked for transferred him. It was the family’s 33rd move. Soon after they settled in, the mother of five started working

many arts organizations and other

on her master’s degree at Oklahoma City University.

A year later, the former stayat-home mom started earning her doctorate in counseling at the University of Oklahoma. For about a decade, she concentrated on raising her family and

community service groups.

building her career as a psychologist.

In the early 1980s, she decided to become more involved in the community she had come to call home.

“As you get older, I think you realize the more you give, the more you receive. If I didn’t have all this volunteer work, I think life would be so boring and depressing.”

——“I think my parents set a good example for that,” she said.

Her parents, the late Morris and Bea Larsen, participated in a wide variety of community service activities in Marsing, Idaho, where she grew up. Her father was on the local school board, and the couple started a county historical society and a family horseback riding club.

One of Goebel’s first volunteer efforts was selling popcorn at the Festival of the Arts, and she joined the board of directors for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City in 1988. She and James Pickel served as cochairmen of the 1995 Festival of the Arts, which was canceled when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed just days before the event.

The co-chairmen agreed to lead the event the following year, a demanding and rewarding task, Goebel said.

“I was struck with what wonderful volunteers we have in this community,” she said, adding the artists and volunteers from the 1995 festival banded together to make the next one successful.

Liz Eickman, executive director of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, said she was impressed with Goebel and Pickel’s willingness to take on an extra year as co-chairmen. The role is usually a two-year commitment, with a year as vice chairman and a year as chairman, but the pair served three years.

“She’s a dynamo. She’s incredible,” Eickman said. “There’s no such thing as an obstacle (to her). That’s what I love about working with Kay. There’s always a solution.”

Eickman praised the past president of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s board as a strong volunteer leader in the arts community. Goebel joined the Oklahoma Arts Council board in 1991, later serving as state chairman of the board for four years. She is a member of the Oklahoma City Arts Commission, on the executive committee for the Central Oklahoma Cultural Development Corp. and on the boards of the Mid America Arts Alliance and Oklahoma Arts Institute. She received a Governor’s Arts Award in 1996, the year before she was inducted into Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

She believes a thriving arts community improves the quality of life and economic development of a state. She said her love for the arts was influenced by her father and grandmother, both amateur painters. Goebel took up the brush during last year’s Festival of the Arts, working with artist Mike Larsen to create a painting of an American Indian mother and child.

“I think many children have trouble learning in a traditional way, but if they have access to an artistic expression — if they can play a musical instrument or act or sing — they can then find academic success,” she said. “Art is not a frill. It’s an essential; that’s my philosophy.”

She also sits on the boards of Planned Parenthood and Calm Waters Center for Children and Families. She has supported Red Tie Night, an AIDS benefit, for several years, serving as cochairman of the event in 2001 and 2002. She is executive secretary of the Oklahoma Academy, a statewide group that discusses policy, serving as cochairman for forums on the arts and crime.

“She really has a sincere desire to help others and help the organization. ... She carries that passion into action,” said Donna Schooley, executive director of Calm Waters, a support center for children experiencing loss, primarily through death and divorce.

Schooley praised the vice chairman of the Calm Waters board for sharing her time, ideas and experience with other nonprofit groups and expertise in psychology with the organization. Goebel also used her professional skills to guide Oklahoma City bombing survivors and families through the process of choosing a memorial design as part of the Families and Survivors Committee for the memorial foundation.

Goebel said she recalls attending the private memorial services on the anniversary of the bombing and walking from the bombing site to what is now the Cox Convention Center. Many people lined the downtown streets to pay respect to those lost and show support to the families and survivors.

“I think, through the bombing, we came to see what a warm and supportive community we have,” she said. “I think that’s one of our No. 1 qualities.”

She said she is continually impressed by the number of volunteers willing to lend their support to various community groups, and she is proud to list her children and grandchildren among them. Her four local children, Kathi Goebel of Oklahoma City, Kristi Oliver of Nichols Hills and Karen Keith and Bart Goebel of Edmond, all have worked on the arts festival, and her grandson Jake, now 16, helped sell T-shirts at the festival as young as age 3. Her husband, Harry, now a selfemployed geophysicist, also supports her volunteer efforts. Their other child, Dee Goebel, lives in Midland, Texas.

Kay Goebel believes people can make themselves happier and healthier emotionally and physically by doing what they can to make their corner of the world a better place.

“I look for things that are going to be interesting, worthwhile and fun,” she said with a laugh. “Volunteer work is a continuing education course.”

“Art is not a frill. It’s an essential; that’s my philosophy.”
Kay Goebel