Betty Sanders: A Nonagenarian Volunteer Making a Difference in Chandler

One of seven children, volunteer Betty Sanders decided to move to Sun Lakes from her native Oklahoma back in 1999 when she purchased her home. It took her three years to actually make the move but once settled into her new community, she wasted no time getting busy.

“I am blessed,” Betty responds in her own matter of fact way when she is asked, “Betty, how do you do it?” She says helping others is the best medicine and it must be working as the feisty volunteer is a nonagenarian, she is 96 years old!

One of her favorite quotes sums up Betty’s philosophy of living and it can be witnessed through everything she does.

“I expect to pass through this world, but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness, I can show my fellow human beings, let me do it now. Let me not differ, nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Stephen Grellet

As a young woman, Betty graduated from the Oklahoma College for Women with an undergrad biology degree and then went on to earn a certificate of physical therapy from Hermann Hospital in Houston. She enjoyed a storied and celebrated career as a university faculty member at the University of Kansas; University of North Carolina; and Wichita State University, and later in a dual faculty appointment with Duke University Department of Physical Therapy and as Director of Rehabilitation at the Lennox Baker Cerebral Palsy Hospital (now Lennox Baker Children’s Hospital).

As a leader, Betty’s skills were put to use over the years in many positions, among them president of the Kansas Physical Therapy Association, member of the Kansas Board of Medical Examiners, and board member of the Arthritis Foundation. Toward the end of her career, Betty made her way back to Oklahoma, her home, and served as a state consultant for Oklahoma Public Schools assessing patients’ sensory motivation development and modifying posture, sheeting, and workstations for special needs children and adults. She was 76 years old when she finally retired.

Betty is a tennis lover. She has played the game for years, eventually even becoming a tennis official  and was certified as a USTA lines person, chair, referee, and NCAA official. She was chosen to work the US Open as an umpire score keeper in 1992 and 1993 in NY, NY. Then in 1993, just a few years before her move to the desert, she served as umpire in Oklahoma for part of the year and then for Missouri Valley Tennis Association the other part. Her tennis efforts were lauded as were her academic achievements when she was inducted into her alma mater’s Hall of Fame in 1996. When she arrived in Arizona where tennis is a year-round sport, her love of tennis accompanied her. Aside from her play, she also officiated matches throughout the valley, including the Winter National Junior Championship.

Today, Sun Lakes residents who need assistive furniture like shower chairs or walkers are greeted by Betty at the Sun Lakes Sheriff’s Posse as she has assisted with the loan service since 2011. Additionally, the Stephen’s Ministry program at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church offering one-on-one comfort and care to homebound congregants is how Betty still continues to volunteer for her church. Lastly and most importantly (at least to us!), Betty is one of us here at Neighbors Who Care. Since enrolling as a volunteer in 2002, she has delivered meals, taken people to dialysis, doctor’s appointments, and shopping, has stayed with homebound spouses offering respite care, and has shopped for clients. Her volunteer encounters total not in the hundreds, but literally in the thousands.

“I will continue to help, in any way I can as long as I can,” Betty pledges. “Even if I should become bedridden, I’d find a way to help doing friendly calls, or whatever I COULD do.”

At Neighbors Who Care, we join the hundreds of clients she’s helped in being grateful for Betty and her kindness, and we aren’t alone. On Tuesday, May 16, Betty Sanders was honored among a group of esteemed women by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. As part of the Women in Leadership annual luncheon, the Chamber honored Betty Sanders for her commitment to volunteerism for the benefit of the Chandler and Sun Lakes community.

Aside from sharing her remarks at the luncheon, Betty imparted a little advice to the crowd:

“Always listen to your elders!”

Betty, we hear you loud and clear!