Category Archives: Volunteerism

Konley Kelley poses inside an aircraft. Richland’s Konley Kelley Shares Passion for Flight and World War II History With Emeritus Students

By day, Konley Kelley is the director of corporate and community relations at Richland College Garland Campus, overseeing contract training in the north Dallas area and assisting with the development of grant projects for the local business community. But when it’s time for the suit and tie to come off, Kelley hits the skies. A long-time volunteer with the Commemorative Air Force B-29/B-24 Squadron, Kelley has served as the editor of “The Flyer” newsletter since 2012 and has been the squadron’s education officer since the title’s creation in late 2017.

Recently, work and play collided when Konley gave a presentation on the CAF as part of the Emeritus program’s Enrichment lecture series. Richland College’s Emeritus program offers a variety of affordable classes and programs to individuals over 50 who enjoy continued learning.

“Many of the Emeritus program members lived through World War II or have clear memories of their parents in the 1940s and ‘50s, who grew up as part of the Greatest Generation,” explained Kelley. “Many Emeritus participants are veterans and history buffs. I think my presentation helps them remember a time that seems distant for people my age—52—and younger, and it encompasses many of their cherished memories. With 18,000 B-24 Liberators built during World War II, some attendees had relatives who flew aboard these aircraft, while many others have fond memories of seeing the aircraft at airshows throughout the years.”

The CAF B-29/B-24 squadron is under the charter of the Commemorative Air Force, an organization dedicated to acquiring, restoring and preserving a complete collection of combat aircraft flown by all military services of the U.S., along with selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future American generations, while also paying tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and flew them in defense of the U.S.

Kelley’s Emeritus presentation on Sept. 24 included an explanation of the CAF and upcoming plans for a CAF national airbase in Dallas, which will include an aviation museum and regularly hosted air shows. He also described his personal experiences with the organization, shared videos and told stories about veterans who have been able to ride in the B-29/B-24 squadron’s legendary planes for the first time since serving in World War II.

“I personally really enjoy being around these beautiful warbirds and learning the history of World War II,” said Kelley. “Through projects in the CAF and the newsletter, I am able to share the stories of the Greatest Generation and these remarkable aircraft with others and promote the mission of the Commemorative Air Force.”

This presentation was Kelley’s fifth Emeritus presentation. In addition to several general CAF presentations similar to this one, Kelley has also previously presented on the B-29 Superfortress “FIFI,” the B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil” and American women in World War II. He has also participated in events for Richland College Veterans Services.

The CAF gives Kelley an outlet to explore another passion of his, scale and 3-D modeling. “I love the detail and craftsmanship involved in the modeling,” he explained. “Each model also represents the story of a person, moment or machine and most of my projects are associated with military history. Now with the CAF, I get to play with the 1:1 scale models!”

Kelley isn’t the only Richland College employee with eyes to the skies. Two other Richland College employees also volunteer for the CAF. Angie Whitney, leadership trainer, is one of the few qualified female loadmasters on a B-24. Lisa Foster, adjunct faculty member, is a living history representation of “Rosie the Riveter,” a World War II icon who symbolized women’s “We Can Do It” attitude by stepping up to work in factories and shipyards. Foster is also the executive officer of the Women Airforce Service Pilots Squadron.

Kelley has been working for Richland College since May 1997. Since then, he has been an Administrator of the Year nominee in 2005 and 2007. His current position is focused on community outreach for corporate services, which provides training to companies at their worksites to provide a more skilled workforce. In turn, this training gives employees the opportunity to earn higher wages and become more promotable through their learned skills.

The Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program provides affordable classes to people ages 50 and older to help them stay intellectually challenged, physically fit and socially connected. Dallas County residents 65 years old and older who have lived in Texas for at least one year may receive free tuition for up to six college credit hours per semester. For more information, visit www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus.

The CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron maintains, preserves and operates the world’s only operational B-29A, “FIFI,” and B-24A, “Diamond Lil.” The squadron regularly brings together the aircraft, pilots and crews from over 70 CAF units across the country to create the AirPower Squadron, an assortment of military aircraft touring across the U.S. The tour will always include at least one of the squadron’s rare, premiere bombers: “FIFI” or “Diamond Lil.” For more information, visit www.cafb29b24.org.

The CAF is the largest flying museum in the world. It is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to honoring American military aviation history through flight, exhibition and remembrance. The CAF has approximately 12,000 members and a fleet of more than 160 aircraft assigned to 63 units across the country. These units are comprised of CAF volunteer members who restore and operate the planes that are viewed by more than 10 million spectators annually. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.


Richland College Counselor Gives Back and Offers Free Yoga Sessions to Campus Community

Julie Hanson practices yoga with several other people.Richland College personal counselor Julie Hanson first began practicing yoga after her father passed away when she was 27-years-old.

“I was struggling with grief,” Hanson said. “I heard yoga could help, and the rest is history.”

For the past four years, Hanson has been giving back the gift of yoga to the Richland College campus community by offering free, weekly yoga sessions to students, faculty and staff members to help manage their stress.

“People need it,” said Hanson. “Talking about what causes stress is important, but putting talk into action takes it to another level. Yoga is an efficient way to reduce stress and is accessible for most people. Participants often tell me they’ve never felt as relaxed as they do at the end of a class.”

Each week, Hanson’s yoga participants come to her sessions to feel more relaxed and open, learning new breathing techniques and a variety of yoga poses that can be done anywhere. The hour-long sessions offer a chance for members of the campus community to give their brains and bodies a break. Hanson says anyone can do yoga—all the poses can be modified, even for people who can’t get on the floor. She often tells attendees that all they have to do is breathe a little more than what it takes to stay alive to succeed in yoga.

“Julie manages to transform a conference room into a soothing and relaxing environment just by the sound of her voice and her kind demeanor,” said Richland College graphic artist and multimedia adjunct instructor Jennifer Curtiss. “You walk in with a stressed back and shoulders, and you walk out serene with a light spring in your step, feeling as if some weight has been lifted in just an hour.”

Hanson also benefits from these sessions. “It makes me happy to help others, especially when the results are so immediate,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have a job that allows me to share my skills to improve lives.”

Hanson received her yoga teacher certification just after 9/11. “I was living in New York at the time and used yoga as a way to create a buffer zone between me and the horror that surrounded me,” Hanson said. “Yoga is emotional first aid, but it’s also a way of life.”

Continuously committed to its college mission of “teaching, learning and community building,” this holiday season, Richland College is showcasing some of the amazing ways Richland College faculty, students and staff are giving back to the community through volunteering with local nonprofits or helping others who might need a hand. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.


Richland College Student Offers Friendship and Good Cheer to Seniors at Local Hospice

Rebekah Land sitting with her back against a treeThere’s no question that Richland College student Rebekah Land is dedicated to her studies and getting to work on time. But lately, some special senior citizens have been bringing out another side of her personality and helping her grow as a person.

Land, who will graduate from Richland College with her associate degree in business math and science in May, has been volunteering throughout the past semester with Angel Care Hospice at Wellington Assisted Living in Richardson.

“I’m usually a run-around, study harder, get to work on time, never hang out, sometimes make-time-for-a-book kind of person,” said Land. “I’m a very driven perfectionist and a workaholic 19-year-old. Angel Care Hospice has helped me continue to develop my softer side, which usually gets shoved in a corner.”

Land has always had a soft spot where the elderly are concerned and previously volunteered at a nursing home. She connected with Angel Care Hospice after finding the organization through Richland College’s Service Learning program, and it has been a great fit for both her and the patients.

Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.

Brenda Patton, director of nursing and volunteer coordinator at Angel Care Hospice, said Land’s work has been incredibly appreciated by the patients.

“What an incredible young lady,” said Patton. “Patients will light up when they hear she is coming. They just love seeing her.”

As a companion services volunteer, Land spends time with the patients. She helps them with small tasks such as getting ready or getting items if necessary, but her primary task is to simply talk to residents and socialize. Land sometimes reads to patients, and she has also wheeled an Alzheimer’s patient around in a wheelchair.

“Often, the most important thing I can do is talk with them and give them my friendship,” said Land. “Spending time with someone who is all cooped up and in their last stage of life adds more value to their day than one can imagine.”

Patton agrees. “They get so lonely, so sometimes just carrying on a regular conversation can help so much,” she said.

Upon graduation from Richland College, Land plans on attending either Southern Methodist University or the University of North Texas in the fall. Eventually, she hopes to be an accountant. Meanwhile, Land will continue her studies at Richland College and look forward to another semester volunteering with Angel Care Hospice.

“Feeling love jump out of your heart and into someone else’s, even when they barely know you, is something I can’t get enough of,” said Land.

Angel Care Hospice is always looking for additional volunteers to provide companionship for its patients. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the hospice at 972-301-5600.

Continuously committed to its college mission of “teaching, learning and community building,” this holiday season, Richland College is showcasing some of the amazing ways Richland College faculty, students and staff are giving back to the community through volunteering with local nonprofits or helping others who might need a hand. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.


Richland College Goes to the Dogs as Faculty Member Hosts Dog Food Drive to Benefit Local Animal Shelter

Sarah Daniel holds dog foodFor Richland College management faculty member Sarah Daniel, cold noses and wagging tails are some of life’s greatest joys.

“My fiancé and I are the proud owners of two rescue dogs, Steeler and Doby,” Daniel said. “Doby was actually found rolling down the street stuffed in a barrel! We have a huge soft spot for dogs, especially abused and abandoned dogs.”

A long-time volunteer for various animal rescue organizations in Texas, Daniel knows many animal shelters are in need of food donations this holiday season. With that in mind she decided to start a holiday dog food drive, the first of what she hopes will become an annual tradition for her.

The dog food that Daniel receives will benefit Texas Best Choices Animal Rescue, a small 501c(3) nonprofit organization located in Quinlan, TX.

“We are in serious need of both wet and dry dog food,” Daniel said. “We are also in serious need of puppy chow, but we will welcome anything as long as it is sealed and has never been opened. In addition to dog food, the shelter would also welcome unopened treats. These dogs don’t get treats that often due to financial constraints.”

Daniel volunteers for Texas Best Animal Rescue by assisting with fundraising.

“This is the first big event I am heading up for them, and I’m really excited about it,” said Daniel. “And in addition to the dog food drive, we will be selling T-shirts for the holiday season.”

Best Choices Animal Rescue also welcomes donations of gently used dog items such as bedding, blankets, leashes and collars, though their most immediate need is providing food for the more than 70 dogs that are currently waiting for homes on the rescue’s 22 acres of land.

“If anyone is looking to adopt a dog for the holidays, let me know!” Daniel exclaimed. “There are some wonderful dogs at the shelter who would make a great addition to any family.”

Anyone interested in making a donation can drop it off at Daniel’s Richland College office, located in room B225 of Bonham Hall. Richland College is located at 12800 Abrams Rd. For questions about donating dog food, contact Daniel at sdaniel@dcccd.edu.

For more information on Texas Best Animal Rescue, visit www.tbcanimalrescue.com.

Continuously committed to its college mission of “teaching, learning and community building,” this holiday season, Richland College is showcasing some of the amazing ways Richland College faculty, students and staff are giving back to the community through volunteering with local nonprofits or helping others who might need a hand. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.