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Trish Tootle: A whirlwind in high heels

If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Trish Tootle out and about in our community yet, trust that it's only a matter of time before you do. With her smile, Southern charm, and unwavering commitment to Statesboro and Bulloch County, everyone loves "Ms. Trish!"

In many towns there is that one person who is involved in a multitude of organizations and causes, with seemingly endless time to devote to whatever purpose there may be to benefit their community. In Statesboro and Bulloch County, it would be difficult to come up with anyone as involved in improving her community as Trish Tootle.

Her job as Community Relations Officer at Statesboro’s Morris Bank (formerly Farmers & Merchants Bank) is a perfect fit for her, but Trish goes far beyond what her employer could expect when it comes to community involvement, and regardless of the task, she is always smartly dressed and wearing her signature heels. Morris Bank Local Advisory Board member, Mark Anderson, describes Trish as “a whirlwind in high heels!” Not only working with her at the bank, but in numerous other local organizations, he knows first-hand what Trish is all about.

Trish keeping the Kiwanis Club in Baxley in line on a recent visit to install their officers

A primary focus of Trish’s is the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, where she has served on the board of directors, has moved through the officers’ chairs, having served as president, and most recently completed a term as the club’s Chair for the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair. She’s even known for trotting around the fairgrounds in her heels! In addition to her local club activities, she is Lieutenant Governor for the Georgia District of Kiwanis International, Division 17.

Kiwanis Club immediate past-president, Chris Wiggins, describes Trish as “perpetual motion with a very specific purpose in mind at all times.”

Chris Wiggins with Trish

A strong supporter of the local Chamber of Commerce, Trish long served on the board of directors, including chairing that board multiple terms. She would have been at every ribbon cutting, Business After Hours, and any other Chamber sponsored community event anyway, but as an active, involved board member, she was sure to be seen at any Chamber related function. Having rotated off the Chamber board, she now serves as the chair for Leadership Bulloch, which is sponsored by the Chamber.

Ogeechee Area Hospice (OAH) also holds a special place in Trish’s heart, and her work to support the local organization is founded in concern for her fellow citizens needing palliative and end of life care. Having experienced the services of OAH first-hand when her own husband, David, was suffering from cancer, she can speak from experience about what the organization means to the community, but she was an active supporter long before her own personal experience with the organization.

Trish and Billy Yawn at one of Ogeechee Area Hospice's annual community chicken dinners

The Averitt Center for the Arts is another local organization where Trish has made her presence known as a long-time board member. Supporting the arts, and providing programing for citizens of all ages, Trish sees value in ensuring that the Center in downtown Statesboro continues to thrive.

Trish has a heart for the local addiction recovery population, as well, serving on the board of Freedom Through Recovery. Her work for that cause, however, extends well past the work of a board member, as she works tirelessly helping those who are in recovery programs, and who need support, often after completing a stint in an inpatient facility. “Her children” feel the motherly, watchful eye of Trish as she quietly works to help them through encouragement, guidance, and (sometimes tough) love as they transition back into society as functional, sober members of the local community.

Testing out the new Freedom Through Recovery van with Leadership Bulloch class members and daughter-in-law (and FTR executive director) Catherine Tootle

Another group Trish knows well are local law enforcement officers, serving on the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation board. In order to make the rounds at all the events, meetings, and functions she frequents, her convertible Mustang is well known for buzzing past troopers, deputies, and police officers, maybe a “little over the speed limit.”

Trish’s smile and southern charm seem to work well for getting friendly warnings of “just be careful” from her law enforcement friends. After all, she is bound to be on an important mission that will benefit many local folks, and who wants to slow that down?

Trish with members of the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation

One amazing trait of Trish’s is her ability to be involved with countless community activities and organizations, while still remaining very devoted to her family. A native of Evans County, Trish still makes nearly daily trips there to check on her mother—something she did for her father, an aunt and uncle, and her in-laws during their final years. Previously active in her local church, she now attends church with her mother each Sunday, since she must drive her, and even teaches her mother’s Sunday School class.

Her sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, Matt, Talette, and son Athan, and Clint, Catherine, and daughter Marley, are obviously very important to her, and all receive the affection and support one would expect from a doting mother and grandmother.

Trish’s smile lights up any room into which she walks, and she most likely knows everyone there—if not, she will by the time she leaves.

At weekly Kiwanis meetings, her “hello everybody” greeting announces her arrival, and she stops numerous times to chat with fellow Kiwanians as she moves toward her seat. Her enthusiasm is palpable, and any organization to which she devotes her focus immediately gets an infusion of energy and excitement.

Trish with Mandy Fortune when she received her Deen Day Smith Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2013

Not known for her cooking, Trish makes up for a lack of culinary skills by being a vibrant personality, or, as her father told David when they were about to get married, “son, you may starve to death, but you’ll never be bored!”

If you don’t know Trish Tootle, it’s just a matter of time before she is one of your friends, too! For all the affiliations mentioned in this story, it is only the tip of the iceberg when describing Trish Tootle and all she does for her adopted home. When asked why she is so active, Trish said, “I’ve been so blessed in life, I just
feel like I have to give back in any way I can.”

And that is why the “whirlwind in high heels” moniker most aptly fits Trish—and Statesboro and Bulloch County are the beneficiaries of that whirlwind!