om Napa, Peggy Kelley has proven herself to be a Winters gal through and through. Now solidified with her designation as 2021 Senior Citizen of the Year, the grape growers who told her she’d never fit into a small town like Winters can only sit and watch as this all-star resident continues to cultivate friendships and weave her warm-hearted selflessness into the community.
Giving back is something that’s always been a part of Kelley. She served Napa in various ways for over 40 years and didn’t skip a beat when she moved to Winters in 2005. Being the new kid in town back then, however, community service became a way to make friends.
“After we moved here, I came home from the grocery store one day and told my husband Larry I was very depressed because I didn’t know anybody. I thought to myself I need to do something about it because you can’t just sit on your keister and expect things to change,” Kelley said, explaining how she started making friends. “One day at mass, Father Kelly asked if there were any visitors. I said I was a visitor once, but now I live here. As I was walking out, the first person I ran into was Barbara Thomas. She asked if I was interested in joining the Fortnightly Club and I said I would.”
After that, she ran into Gloria Thomas who roped Kelley into joining the Altar Society. From there, the proverbial dominos continued to fall, Kelley kept getting more and more involved and making more and more friends all-the-while. A by-product of it all, thousands of dollars raised for various organizations and scholarships.
“I started doing fund raising for the Altar Society, got hooked up with Isabel Snow and did fashion shows. One we did for St. Anthony’s, we dressed up the priest’s dog Gracie. It was a lot of work, I tell ya. We also worked closely with the Knights of Columbus with putting on functions,” Kelley said. “I’m also active keeping the Fortnightly scholarship going. After Isabel passed away, we renamed it the Fortnightly Isabel Snow Memorial Scholarship. It’s $1,000 each for two girls. We work hard to keep it going in honor of other members who’ve passed on.”
Along with leading the Fortnightly Club through a pandemic, Kelley’s resume of service includes being a judge for senior capstone projects for years, was on the committee for getting the new church built, raised money for Winters High School softball, helped at Waggoner Elementary events, taken part in countless food drives and essentially embodying the term ‘community service.’
“There’s a lot of people who’d do the same thing and it’s very rewarding. I have made some wonderful friends since I’ve been here. When I moved here, some people in Napa told me ‘You’re going to a small town, they won’t accept you.’ And that was not true. Not at all,” Kelley said. “In fact, when we’re playing cards in a group, sometimes Barbara will say ‘sometimes I forget you didn’t go to school here.’”
A long time has passed since that fateful trip to the grocery store. Now, like so many others in Winters, Kelley can’t go anywhere without seeing a familiar face. It’s because she got up off her keister and gave back — like most should opt to do — that she made so many friends and earned the title of Senior Citizen of the year.