RUSSELLVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) --- For close to four years veterans in the Russellville community have been given outreach opportunities resources and ultimately - friendships. This is all thanks to one local woman, Shayna O'Kelley.
"I started volunteering when I was literally in a car seat. I would go on rides with wheels for meals deliveries with my mom and I can still remember the smell of the green beans in the back of the car. I have been volunteering since then and it has just always been a part of my life," said O'Kelley.
It is more than just a job to properly serve a community with love.
"She does what she can for anybody. She is the key. She is just the fabulous woman," said Jeff Gillespie, Army Veteran.
"I don't think she understands the concept of saying no. Whenever a person comes to her in need, her first response is how can I help?" said Judge Coker, Veteran and friend of O'Kelley.
O'Kelly says to serve and help others was a calling of hers at a young age.
"We just appreciate her services to the community," said Pastor Tom Thompson. "She does it because of her love for the veterans."
Close to four years ago, O'Kelley created a Veteran's Group to give those men and woman an outlet in their community.
"She's the driving force, the motivating factor behind it," said Thompson.
Those participating range from veterans during WWI to the Afghan War.
Military veterans of all service eras, wartime or peacetime, attend the First Presbyterian Church Veteran's Group for a home-cooked dinner and a guest speaker.
"If it weren't for her and all the people here, we wouldn't have this fellowship," said Joe Lawrence, Army Veteran. "Shayna is sort of like the leader of the pack here."
From just few men to nearly 60, O'Kelley brings veterans together once a month for fellowship and resources.
"We love her and appreciate her so much, we appreciate her heart. you know that is the key to life," said Thompson.
O'Kelly is a rare soul with the ability to light up a room.
"Shayna is a very community oriented individual, she is a first class christian lady. She has a heart as big as the outdoors," said Cocker.
O'Kelley is the driving force for veterans' outreach in her community
"It's just harmony here in this hall," said Carl Foster, Veteran and friend of O'Kelley. "She's one of a million."
"I love these guys, they've really become a family. For me this is just one of those things, a small thing I can do to thank them for their service. It is never too late to say thank you," O'Kelley said. "I look forward to it every month just as much as they do I think."
"Shanya is just a bustle of energy and she has a great personality. She is just happy and makes everyone enjoy life," said Foster.
For her selfless dedication to our veterans and going out of her way to make life beautiful for those around her, we honor Shayna O'Kelley as this week's Hughes and Coleman Hometown Hero.
"Leaving the vets is probably the hardest thing I have to do before we leave," O'Kelley said.
"Shayna just feels like family really. She is just one of a kind, a loving person, she's just wonderful," said Foster. "We're going to miss her."
O'Kelley will be moving to Colorado by the end of the year to be closer with family. The veterans say that she will be greatly missed in Russellville.