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Victoria woman gives her all to help others

By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
March 16, 2010 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.

Kathy Hunt organizes reading materials for her Methodist Church group, on Monday. Hunt has dedicated a generous portion of her life to volunteer work and has been active in civic organizations such as the League of Woman Voters.

Kathy Hunt is a self-professed nonprofit groupie.

"I have always loved to volunteer," said the 53-year-old native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I think the first thing I did was through my church. We brought in our old toys for children who needed toys."

Hunt said she also recalls doing clothing drives and canned food drives as a child through her church and through Campfire Girls.

Her current involvement in community organizations reaches across a wide spectrum, from Theater Victoria to the YMCA.

She is currently or has been a member of more than 30 nonprofit boards, agencies and civic groups in the Victoria area.

She also served on the Victoria school board from 1997-2000 and continues to be involved in education-related activities.

One of her most recent efforts is coordinating the Nonprofit Network of the Golden Crescent, a roundtable of nonprofit professionals who gather regularly to share ideas.

Joe Baugh, executive director of the Cultural Council of Victoria who attends those roundtable discussions, gives Hunt credit for helping keep the group focused.

"Kathy Hunt is the driving force that makes it possible for the nonprofit community to communicate with one another," Baugh said.

"She has taken it upon herself to keep the meetings going, when there seemed to be little or no interest," he added. "She has brought speakers with information we all needed, but hadn't taken the time to get for ourselves. We can only hope she continues to push us."

Hunt continues to push herself.

She is also active in her churches, First United Methodist of Victoria and Telferner United Methodist Church, where she has taught Sunday School, sung in the choir, served on the youth mission board and various other committees.

She is currently serving as the Victoria District Program Resource Coordinator for the Telferner United Methodist Church Women.

"She's been a good leader. She's just about covered the heart of the church. She is highly respected and appreciated for her dedication to her calling," said Betty Marr, a retired clergy from the First United Methodist Church.

In her spare time, Hunt also transforms into the "Charitable Gourmet," frequently donating home cooked dinners as silent auction items for area nonprofit organizations and schools.

A chemical engineering major at Iowa State University, Hunt began her career as a drilling engineer for a natural gas storage and transmission company.

That work eventually brought her to Texas where she joined Union Carbide in 1986. She logged 22 1/2 years with the chemical company that was later acquired by Dow.

She first worked as an environmental engineer. The job involved a lot of community outreach including public meetings, information booths, beach clean up and household hazardous waste collection days.

She then spent about 10 years as the plant's public affairs manager.

"One of the biggest blessings in my life was working in public affairs at the plant. That really gave me an opportunity to work with the public," she said.

After retirement in 2009, Hunt began a second career - high school teacher.

She currently teaches chemistry, integrated physics & chemistry and process technology, a dual credit class at Industrial High School in Vanderbilt.

This is her first experience teaching in a classroom setting.

"It's been an eye-opener, that's for sure," she said.

Hunt's humanitarian efforts even extend to the animal kingdom.

She says her household is run by the 16 cats - both inside and outside cats - that she takes care of.

The only child said she is humbled by being recognized as the Advocate of the Month.

"I prefer being behind the scenes," she said.

Myra Starkey, a founding director for Habitat for Humanity in Victoria, has worked with Hunt more than once.

"She's tireless and always willing to say yes," Starkey said. "Every organization we worked together on, she poured herself into it. I love Kathy Hunt."

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