Kelly Uhlis’ goal is to pay it forward every day. She volunteers with Hands on Atlanta, Autism Speaks, Special Olympics, Atlanta Police Foundation and the March of Dimes. And, in November, Uhlis opens up her Hiram home to friends who have nowhere else to go for Thanksgiving.
“I was raised by my family to always put others first,” Uhlis said. “I get joy out of being there for others who need help and joy by just being a friend. I have but one life to give my best. Paying it forward is my motto and I do it with a humble heart and consider it a blessing to participate with such amazing people and organizations.”
In addition, Uhlis, the wife of a police sergeant, started a group for spouses and families of police officers stretching from north to south Georgia. She created a forum for family members to discuss various issues, and group members provide meals for wives who have had babies and attend funerals for members who have experienced losses. The group also plans get-togethers for birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, cookie swaps during the Christmas season, summer parties and trips to the pumpkin patch.
“I started the police wives group simply out of a need to feel connected,” Uhlis said. “I knew there had to be other wives, girlfriends and better halves who understood the lifestyle. We look at our men and women in blue every morning knowing there is a possibility they will never return. They work extremely long hours and oftentimes we act as a single parent. We have so much respect for the job they do and strive to be positive for them. So instead of waiting for women to come to me and make friends, I decided to just create a group hoping it would grow.”
The membership in Uhlis’ statewide and Atlanta Police Department groups skyrocketed from five to more than 300 in a matter of weeks.
“I may have birthed the concept, but it takes everyone else to make it possible,” Uhlis said.
For all of her volunteering efforts, Uhlis recently was named the Atlanta Police Department’s Citizen of the Year, something the mom of two toddlers said was humbling.
“I do not see myself as anyone other than plain old Kelly or ‘Mom,’” Uhlis said. “I am extremely grateful that others can benefit from the group. I am very proud to bring awareness to the fact that families need to be more connected to their family in blue. I hope to see this group continue to grow and I dedicate the award to everyone in that GA/APD group as well as my family whom I love endlessly and forever.”
In the future, Uhlis hopes to volunteer for more charities and continue to pay it forward.
“If I can lighten the load, put a smile on someone’s face, comfort someone who is going through a hard time, or encourage people to live their best life possible, I have humbly and genuinely fulfilled my role as a person,” she said.