Haysville: Art fair organizer named Citizen of the Year

Shirley McCutchen, center, is Haysville’s Citizen of the Year. She is pictured with art fair volunteers Jet Holt, left, and Carolyn Brown.

By Sam Jack

Local volunteer Shirley McCutchen was named Haysville’s Citizen of the Year during Fourth of July festivities in Riggs Park last week.

McCutchen said she was surprised and flattered to be chosen for the honor.

“I never expected anything like this. I do what I do because it’s what I love. I was really very surprised,” she said.

She was named Citizen of the Year because of her work on two annual charitable projects, the See Beyond the Labels Art Fair and Santa For Seniors.

“Shirley saw a need to help teachers working with special needs children, so she started the See Beyond the Labels Art Fair five years ago,” Mayor Bruce Armstrong said. “Since the beginning, Shirley has hit the streets (to) gather donations from local businesses, individuals and schools for auction items. She provides several different family-friendly events at the show itself for the community to enjoy.”

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For See Beyond the Labels, held over the last weekend of April, McCutchen coordinates a petting zoo, horseback rides, food and games to go along with the annual art exhibit.

“The special ed students get to display their art, and they really enjoy it. They add to it every year, and they bring their families and friends to see what they’ve created. It’s a really fun thing,” McCutchen said.

All proceeds from the fair go to USD 261’s special education department.

“Because my daughter is in a special ed life skills class, I see firsthand how much the teachers dig into their own pockets. I just wanted to come up with a way to help those classrooms,” she said.

McCutchen’s other annual project is Santa for Seniors.

“I go to the nursing home a lot, just to visit. I thought, ‘What can I do to cheer these people up?’ There are so many of them that don’t have family close by,” she said. “I saw the Angel Trees for kids and thought, ‘I wonder if I could do something like that for senior citizens.’”

Starting each October, McCutchen visits with seniors at Diversicare, Peachtree Plaza Tower and the senior center.

“I personally interview each person, get their wish list and put it on a card to hang on the Santa for Seniors tree. Then the public comes by, gets a card, shops and brings it back,” she said. “We’ve got families that look forward to getting a certain name every year and personally delivering a Christmas present to their adopted grandparent. I do it because I love to see (seniors) smile, and I look forward to it every year.”

Shirley McCutchen was named Haysville’s Citizens of the Year at last week’s Fourth of July celebration.