By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Writer
Ten chickens, three cats, two dogs and two turtles keep Katherine Herrin-Keith smiling and busy at her home in La Marque. Add to that her full-time job as a Guardian with Friends for Life and one wonders when she has time for countless community projects.
Herrin sees a need and she finds a way to help fill that need. “She does so much for others, she is an inspiration and strength for those around her,” said Ricki Garcia, who works with her on projects.
As last week’s historic Arctic storm was about to sweep into the Gulf Coast region, Herrin passed out blankets to homeless individuals. With the support of La Marque Citizen’s police, she rode with police officers to deliver the blankets.
“I’d see a person and I’d say, ‘it looks like you might need a warm blanket.’ If they accepted, then I gave them a blanket,” Herrin explained.
When local citizens put together a hot dog roast to feed the community during the worst days of the freeze, Herrin was there helping get over 3,000 warm meals served.
Prior to the storm, Herrin was collecting items such as used clothing, blankets, undergarments, combs, brushes and other personal use items to be distributed to nursing homes and homeless veterans.
Visiting nursing homes is a regular activity for Herrin in her volunteer efforts and as a professional guardian. On some occasions, she takes her dogs into the nursing homes.
“You should see the resident’s eyes light up, when they pet the dogs,” said Ben Keith, her husband.
Tears form as Herrin shares a memory. “I got a call in the middle of the night from a man who wanted permission to visit his brother in a nursing home whom he had not spoken with for 50 years,” she said.
Herrin reconnected the brothers allowing the nursing home resident to spend his last six months with visits from his brother.
Her Christmas project was soliciting stuffed animals and delivering them to nursing home residents. Herrin spreads the word about her projects to her neighbors and friends and uses social media to help in her collection of items. While distributing gathered donations, she provides the donors with photos via social media.
Nichole Sullivan shared about her sister, “She started helping senior citizens when she was in eighth grade.”
In front of her home is a Free Little Library where people both take and bring books. Occasionally, a parent or guardian has requested she tutor a child, which she does at no cost.
Herrin is also Chaplin and Veteran coordinator for Elks 126 in Galveston, Vice Chair for Keep La Marque Beautiful, associate coordinator for Heroes on the Water, Galveston Bay chapter, a member at large for 27 years of the Marine Corp League in Galveston and member of La Marque Citizen’s Police Academy.
One of her favorite projects is creating closets of clothing for nursing home residents who have no wardrobe of their own. She started Galveston’s Glamping Girls, which is for women who want to learn how to camp with a little touch of modern comforts. On top of everything else, she runs a monthly book club.
“The more I put energy into doing for others, the less I worry about myself,” said Herrin, who, in 2018, was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. She continued community service throughout her treatment. She is now cancer free.
Born in Galveston, she traveled the world as a military spouse. In 2006 Herrin returned to Texas, nestling into her home in La Marque.
“People here are very proud. I love the way the community comes out for everyone,” she says of La Marque.