HandsOn Texarkana is heading into a new era of nonprofit leadership under executive director Amy Lemley. While Amy may hold a new title, she says she is looking to carry on the same tradition at HandsOn that has been in place for more than 50 years. "I am looking forward to continuing the legacy of HandsOn, which is meeting the needs of the people in the community," Amy said. "That was something Kathey (Graves) was very passionate about, and that she did very well. Her knowledge of that and leadership has really taught me how to move forward and be able to do that in the future."
Amy credited Kathey, HandsOn's former director who retired earlier this year after 23 years of service, for her start in nonprofit work. Working alongside Kathey for nearly four years, she said she learned valuable lessons that she will take with her in this next step of her professional journey.
"Kathey played a huge role in me getting involved with nonprofits," she said. "I had not worked for a nonprofit before, but I always loved helping people. So, when this opportunity came up and I came and spoke to Kathey about the administrative assistant position, her passion for this type of work really spoke to me. I really just couldn't resist the opportunity to come over here."
Growing up in Texarkana and attending Liberty-Eylau schools, Amy knows this community like the back of her hand.
After working as a preschool teacher and in various administrative roles at other companies, Kathey recognized this commitment and willingness to help those in her city, and brought Amy aboard. Fast-forward nearly four years later, and Amy presented Kathey an award for her 23 years of service to the Texarkana Volunteer Center, which rebranded itself as HandsOn Texarkana
"That was a really special moment," she said. "Kathey doesn't really like the spotlight, so to be able to honor her with that award, because she really was deserving of that, was a really special time for both of us."
Kathey said she is more than confident in Amy's abilities to keep HandsOn thriving as a promoter of volunteerism in the Texarkana community.
"HandsOn is in very good hands with Amy," Kathey said. "She has been with the organization for over three years and knows everything about the programs, the mission, the Collins Building and how things operate. She is young and vibrant with a lot of energy. Amy knows the board, and they have confidence in her leadership. She has the desire to do what she can to make our community a better place to live."
Amy said her biggest motivation moving forward is to simply provide resources to those in the most need.
"I believe that helping people is something that we should all be doing," she said. "I think everyone needs a helping hand at some point in their life. It is just very fulfilling to help the people who need it the most.
"The community is a big part of what we do because we promote volunteerism. That is our mission. And of course, we want to use volunteers to meet the needs of everyone in the community. So, it's very important for us to partner with all the nonprofits with any kind of organization that is wanting to volunteer and help out in the community."
HandsOn serves the community in many ways, including programs like Senior Transportation, Skilled Parenting and Disaster Preparedness. And one of the major fundraisers to support programs like these is the annual Tapas and Wine event.
This year's Tapas and Wine Fundraiser is on Oct. 1, and tickets are on sale now.
"I'm looking forward to growing HandsOn," Amy said. "It's been around for over 50 years, so I'm just looking forward to taking on that responsibility of moving it into the future and hopefully serving the community well."