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‘Hands and feet of Jesus’

2020 VISION: Baker, with RSVP of Enid, draws inspiration from serving others

  • 3 min to read
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Christy Baker, executive director of RSVP of Enid, works to move boxes of food, as her organization teamed with Tyson Foods and local volunteers to distribute 40,000 pounds of protein April 1 to 42 nonprofit agencies and churches from across Northwest Oklahoma.

ENID, Okla. — From her work as executive director at RSVP of Enid to co-founding Bennie’s Barn and her service on numerous boards, you don’t have to look far in Enid to see the work and impact of Christy Baker.

Family is important

The Kremlin native moved to Texas in 2006, with her husband, Chip, after the couple graduated from Oklahoma State University.

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Baker said she had a good job there as a marketing director, and all the couple’s plans for financial earnings and professional success were falling into place. But, it wasn’t home.

“What’s really important is family,” Baker said, and when her father fell gravely ill in 2008, they decided to move back to Enid.

‘A significant loss’

In December 2008 Baker started work as the assistant director at RSVP of Enid, under then-director Bennie Mullins.

Baker said Mullins shaped her life and her outlook on serving others and was an influence in her life second only to her parents.

“She was all of those things that makes this world good,” Baker said. “She genuinely loved with all of her being, and anyone who was a friend of hers always knew they were her best friend — and it didn’t matter if she had 900 best friends. She was the biggest part of my professional life, and personally I loved her very much.”

When Mullins died in 2012, after serving as RSVP director for 27 years, Baker said she left a lasting impact on Enid, and on her. 

“We loved her, and when she passed away, there was a significant loss in our lives, both personally and professionally,” Baker said.

When she and Chip founded their equine therapy program, along with Keith Siragusa, Baker said it was easy to choose a name.  

Bennie’s Barn, through its mission of rescuing horses and providing therapeutic riding sessions for veterans and adults and children with disabilities, serves as a living legacy to Mullins and her passion for serving others, Baker said.

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The Mobile Meals program serves as a hub to assess needs and refer seniors to RSVP’s other programs, including minor home repairs, transportation assistance, membership at Enid Senior Center, homebound counseling, help with utilities and other resources, food commodity box deliveries, library book deliveries and assistance with Medicare paperwork.

Program is a lifeline

And, she also strives to continue honoring Mullins through her work to grow RSVP of Enid and its services to local seniors in need.

At the center of those efforts is the Mobile Meals program, which Baker said is “about more than just a meal.” For seniors in need, Baker said the program is a lifeline.

“It’s their resource for companionship and interaction, which goes far beyond just the nutrition,” she said.

Baker said the Mobile Meals program serves as a hub to assess needs and refer seniors to RSVP’s other programs, including minor home repairs, transportation assistance, membership at Enid Senior Center, homebound counseling, help with utilities and other resources, food commodity box deliveries, library book deliveries and assistance with Medicare paperwork.

All of those programs are possible, Baker said, because of community support and the dedicated service of more than 450 active volunteers.

RSVP reopened its senior center in 2014, providing a safe place for companionship and access to services but also serving as a hub for the largest food box distribution program in the state. The program provides more than 280 40-pound boxes of food each month to seniors in need, many of whom are homebound and receive the boxes through the work of community volunteers.

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Christy Baker, executive director of RSVP of Enid, poses in her office at RSVP at the corner of Van Buren and Garriott.

‘Selfless volunteerism’

In recognition of RSVP’s work in the community, the organization was selected as the ONE (Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence) Award winner for 2016 — the highest honor a nonprofit can receive through the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

Also in 2016, RSVP was presented the Karen D. Jacobs Award for “exemplifying the character of selfless volunteerism of community work,” according to a press release.

‘High honor just to serve’

In addition to her work with RSVP, Baker served on the local March of Dimes board for six years and on the YWCA Enid board for three years. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Enid Class XIX, was selected in 2014 for the Enid Young Professionals 10 Under 40 award, is an active member of PEO, served as a deacon at Central Christian Church, has volunteered in the Coach-A-Kid program and has been an Honorary Squadron Commander at Vance Air Force Base.

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Christy Baker, executive director of RSVP of Enid, works to move boxes of food, as her organization teamed with Tyson Foods and local volunteers to distribute 40,000 pounds of protein April 1 to 42 nonprofit agencies and churches from across Northwest Oklahoma. 

Baker currently serves on the Garfield County Elder Abuse Task Force, working alongside law enforcement, other nonprofits and senior service agencies to identify and prevent senior abuse in the community.

Whatever role she is filling, Baker said she has two important reasons for the work she puts into serving the community — her sons, Cash, 8, and Riggs, 2.

“For me, personally, it’s all because I am raising my children here, and I feel like for in order for your kids to do good things for others, they need to see you do that first,” Baker said. “It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus. This job enables me to do that. And it’s a high honor just to serve people who are in need.”


2020 Vision: All Community Service stories

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  • 10 min to read

“During these uncertain times, we can be thankful for our nonprofits and the generous donors who support them. Recognize how blessed you/we truly are and please remember to help those who are living from paycheck to paycheck or who are on the streets or in a shelter.” — Dan Schiedel, CEO of United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma.

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  • 3 min to read

One might think Keith Schwandt has his hands full as regional community president and executive vice president of InterBank, but he doesn’t stop there. Schwandt also is chairman of the board of directors for Integris Bass Baptist Hospital Foundation, a board of trustees member for Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, a board of directors member for Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma and a member of Enid Rotary Club.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.

2020 Vision is a special section that will publish in the Enid News & Eagle for eight Sundays in February, March and April 2020. The section is designed to feature individuals, businesses and organizations in Enid and Northwest Oklahoma that work every day for the betterment of the region and its residents. This section, which published April 12, 2020, focuses on Community Service.

Read all sections at 2020 Vision: All stories

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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I am a retired Naval Officer and small business owner, outside of my work at the News & Eagle. My wife Tammy and I enjoy serving together at church and attending Gaslight and ESO. We have two daughters, three dogs and little free time.

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