Thomas Turner has been an active community volunteer for over 45 years. At the age of 86, he devotes an average of 40 hours per week to helping seniors and young people in the Greater Cincinnati area and his local community, Georgetown.
A former professional baseball player with the Negro League’s Chicago American Giants, Turner began his public service in the 1960’s by organizing and coaching title-winning girls’ softball teams. His expert advice helped start more than 300 women’s slow-pitch teams.
Leveraging his relationships with former Negro League baseball players, Turner provided the leadership that helped form Seniors With A Purpose (SWAP). SWAP, made up of a local group of noted Negro League players, bridges community gaps with youth through participation in the lives of seniors. SWAP members seek to share their experiences and pass on the historical wisdom that made them successful. Members are active, signing on for speaking engagements, personal appearances and baseball clinics at elementary, junior and senior high schools, colleges, churches and civic organizations.
Turner holds a special place in his heart for the seniors in nursing homes. He volunteers weekly at the Villa and Locust Ridge nursing homes, leading the seniors in entertaining activities, poetry readings, sing-a-longs, and Bible trivia games. An accomplished cook, Turner makes special desserts for the seniors and often invites them to his home for dinner. Turner brings the generations together by enlisting Georgetown High School students to push wheelchairs for disabled seniors at the annual Brown County Fair. A man who likes to stay busy, Turner finds time to head up the Brown County Alzheimer’s Fundraiser and Annual Memory Walk.
Turner was born in Olive Branch, Tennessee, but grew up in Glendale, Ohio and lived most of his adult life in Cincinnati. He attended Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, on a football scholarship. Turner has been admitted to the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
Said Turner: “I feel blessed to be able to perform small acts of kindness that can brighten a few minutes of someone’s day. Spending time talking, teaching and learning with both the young and the old gives me a new perspective from which to view the cycle of life. I’m honored to be among those recognized by the Points of Light Foundation.”