Born: Nov. 25, 1923
When OASIS started in 1990 in Indianapolis to serve the older population of the city, Betty Phillips was there, volunteering however the organization could use her help.
OASIS was launched in Indianapolis from the third floor of the old L.S. Ayres building at Washington Square Mall on the Eastside. The goal of the organization was to create opportunities for older adults to continue their personal growth, said Mrs. Phillips. It also provided meaningful service to the city.
She was attending the annual home show when she signed up to volunteer for OASIS, she said. The organization’s values and goals fit her personal values and goals because she was a lifelong learner. She had returned to school when she was 50 years old to complete a nursing degree. Those skills would come in handy as she helped nurse her husband to whom she was married for 67 years before he passed.
Mrs. Phillips helped OASIS with registrations and events. She encouraged participants to remain in the program and helped with programming. She didn’t receive any pay for her work. It was a love of helping others and the opportunities she helped provide seniors that kept her motivated, she said.
She spent 25 years volunteering with the organization.
OASIS classes include courses in the arts, humanities, technology and wellness. Some require small fees, others are free. There are more than 27,000 people in Indianapolis who are a part of OASIS.
Indianapolis became the 15th city to create an OASIS program. It started with 40 class offerings in 1990. Today it has over 250 classes and special events each trimester.
Mrs. Phillips said her volunteer work didn’t stop with OASIS programming for older adults. She also volunteered as an OASIS reading tutor at Franklin Township schools. She spent a day every week helping youngsters in grades kindergarten through 4th grade.
Today, over 500 OASIS tutors work with over 550 students in nine school districts in the Greater Indianapolis area.
“I loved being with the children,” said Mrs. Phillips, who celebrates her 91st birthday this year. “I remember one little boy who told me I had really helped him.”
Mrs. Phillips has four adult children – three girls and a boy, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
To keep busy today, she attends exercise classes three times a week and visits regularly with other residents of Rosegate. “I love people,” she said. “A lot of people just need someone to talk to.”