Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when Americans set a goal of giving thanks for things that are taken for granted daily.
For the active residents at Baptist Retirement Community, showing thanks by giving back to others is something they delight in doing during their retirement. 81-year-old Flo McKinney, a resident at Baptist Retirement Community, has integrated thoughtful gestures into the exuberant life she leads. She gives thanks by readily helping others when the occasion arises. McKinney regularly escorts neighbors and friends to mass every Sunday, volunteers with the Baptist Retirement Community Auxiliary to help make the community a better place and works through acts of kindness to do missionary work. Having been raised in China and after doing missionary work there for 30+ years, McKinney feels she has a lot of reasons to be thankful.

“I was born and raised in China, as my parents were missionaries there,” said McKinney, a resident of Baptist Retirement Community. “I left China at 17 to come back to the United States and go to college at Baylor University. My husband and I traveled back to China to serve as missionaries for 27 years. We value helping others and leading them to God; it is very fulfilling. We all have gifts and talents and use them in different ways. I enjoy using mine to bring a smile to someone’s face. I really enjoy visiting with people and volunteering with the Baptist Retirement Community Auxiliary. Currently, I am the chair of the semiannual bake sale. We are planning to use the proceeds to purchase a new bus to transport residents around town.”

McKinney enjoys sharing the joys of her life and her faith in God with others. She has been devoted to spreading the word of God all her life.

“I had a wonderful time in China,” expressed McKinney. “God was good to send us to Hong Kong. It is such a vibrant place to live, and we enjoyed the international community of people who also called Hong Kong home. My husband and I worked in Chinese churches and took the youth on sailing trips where we educated them about God and his work. We came back to the US when we were ready to retire and do something different with our lives. We lived in Houston for a little bit, but eventually came to San Angelo to be close to my brother and his family. Having left a buzzing community in Hong Kong, it is fulfilling to live in a community where we I can be equally as involved and enthusiastic about doing things for others. Having served God my entire life, I find it rewarding to escort my friends and neighbors to church every Sunday. I have so many reasons to be thankful.”

McKinney celebrates Thanksgiving with a big feast like other Americans. Her new tradition entails meeting with friends to share a decadent meal at the Main Street Café, a bistro style restaurant in the Henley-Mabee High Rises which is open to the public.Her favorite foods are turkey and dressing, as well as pecan pie. When her family comes in from out of town she makes a cheesecake, which is one of her family’s favorite desserts. Since much of her family lives far away and they do not get to see each for every holiday, they set aside time to Skype and chat over the phone. They have to plan accordingly though, as some of the family lives overseas and the time change is reversed.

“I am most thankful for my good health and the daily blessings I receive from God,” said McKinney. “More people should be thankful for the simpler things in life and get up ready to enjoy the day they have been given. We should be thankful for the good days and the bad days. The bad days make us even more thankful for the good ones. People who live life with a pessimistic outlook need to look beyond themselves and see how they can help others, look for the needs of others and work to help fulfill those needs. They’ll feel better for it. There is goodness not only in things, but also in people.”

Baptist Retirement Community plans many special events throughout the year and during the holidays. The residents really enjoy bustling about and partaking in the lively events that the community plans. During the holidays, spirited residents decorate their homes with Christmas lights and holiday décor. Baptist Retirement Community also partakes in the fun by lighting up the campus with hundreds of Christmas lights to create a dazzling display.

“When my family gets together for Thanksgiving we reflect on past memories and look ahead to the future,” said McKinney. “It is a warm and inviting time of fellowship for me and my family. I feel blessed to live in such a spirited community that my family enjoys visiting.”

“Flo is an inspiration and a joy to other residents in the community,” said Quinda Feil-Duncan. “Her attitude and outlook on life is contagious. We are thankful for her and appreciate that she cares about and serves her neighbors in a special way.”