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A helping heart

Risley champions volunteer work


Katie Risley’s story isn’t woven from grand gestures but from a consistent, quiet dedication to her community. Having been raised in the rural stretches outside Owensboro, it was there that her passion for helping others began to take root, though she humbly admits she doesn’t quite know where it came from. 

An accountant with Big Rivers Electric Corporation, Katie began volunteering at CrossRoads to Hope, a women’s and children’s emergency homeless shelter, in 2016. Balancing the demands of her profession and recently completing an MBA was not easy, but her passion for helping others kept her going. Her work with CrossRoads set the stage for her current role at Borrowed Hearts Owensboro, an organization aiding children in foster care. She was approached by a woman in her church who recognized Katie’s financial acuity and her devotion to the CrossRoads shelter. 

“We don’t have anybody to handle our books,” the woman had said of Borrowed Hearts. With that, Katie stepped up as treasurer. 

Since November 2021, Katie has been a pillar at Borrowed Hearts, ensuring children in foster care and those temporarily placed with family members receive clothing, hygiene products and even new shoes. They serve these children without a time limit. 

Big Rivers, where Katie has worked for over a decade, has become an extension of her community commitment. She championed a quarterly volunteer program that sees her colleagues come together to support various causes. 

“Since I’ve been involved with Borrowed Hearts, I have connected with so many people from all walks of life,” she says. “The most rewarding has to be during our quarterly events and seeing the faces that receive the good we offer.” 

Drawing inspiration from their mother’s example, Katie’s adult children have embraced roles at Borrowed Hearts. Whether adding a splash of color to the walls or meticulously organizing cabinets, they are ready to lend a hand. “Involving our children is probably one of the best things we can do to push them in the right direction,” Katie says. 

The family’s commitment to making a difference is a testament to the powerful influence of leading by example and turning everyday tasks into meaningful contributions. 

Katie advocates for everyone to give time to nonprofits, reinforcing that volunteerism is about making a difference where one can. 

“It takes a lot of time, but it’s important,” she says.

MOLLY HAINES RIDDLE is the editor of Sweet Owen Magazine, a quarterly tourism publication celebrating all things Owen County

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