Keagle named City Marshal for parade

Humanity House founder Tracy Keagle will be honored as the City Marshal for the annual Farm-City Days parade on Saturday. Keagle is known for helping connect people with food, housing and help with utilities — and especially for helping connect people with each other.

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October 11, 2021 - 9:28 AM

Tracy Keagle thought her son-in-law, Aaron Franklin, was joking when he called to tell her she’d been selected as City Marshal for the Farm-City Days parade Saturday.

“Am I in trouble?” she joked. 

Once she knew it wasn’t a joke, Keagle’s next question was, “Why me?”

She once served as a member of the Farm-City Days committee, and had been involved with the selection of Farm and City marshals. 

What criteria did she use to pick a marshal?

“Someone with a good heart,” she quickly answered.

And that explains it.

Keagle has always felt motivated to serve others. As a child, she remembers watching someone in a walker attempting to mow a lawn; she rushed over to volunteer. 

As an adult raising six children, she often worked three jobs. She’s had a lawn and landscaping business, and painted houses, among other activities.

Later, she took over the Connectors program for Thrive Allen County, which matched people in need with various programs.

She organized a poverty conference attended by representatives of 87 different organizations.

She saw the biggest needs were for help with food, utilities and housing.

That led Keagle to found Humanity House, a place to find those types of resources but also a place for people of all backgrounds to come together to learn, connect and grow.

Humanity House, under the guidance of Keagle and Georgia Masterson, offers a food pantry, community garden, assistance programs, education and more. 

Each Sunday evening, they offer Grandma’s Kitchen, which provides a free meal to anyone who wants one. It typically provides about 150 meals each week. Keagle hopes the program will expand to Wednesday nights as well.

THE COVID-19 pandemic has affected much about the way Humanity House operates.

Keagle is immunocompromised, and is very careful to limit personal interactions. She’s been vaccinated and often wears a mask. 

But because of continuing concerns related to the virus, Humanity House continues to take precautions. That means they’ve canceled group classes and allow only one person at a time in the office.

Keagle misses those large events. She still gets a chance to visit with people in a one-on-one setting, but she enjoyed the camaraderie of classes and events. People would get together and trade recipes or swap stories. 

“Those classes made the most impact,” she said. “Helping people with utilities, housing and food are really important. But sitting down and hearing someone’s stories are the most important.”

The pandemic also put a halt to Santa’s House, where children would come to visit Santa Claus and take home a gift.

She previously led volunteers to decorate the downtown square with Christmas lights, but a different group took over last year.

She’d like to think of a new Christmas lights project, perhaps setting up lighted trees around town and making it a sort of scavenger hunt to find them all.

KEAGLE volunteered on the Farm-City Days committee for a couple of years after the entire board resigned en masse. 

She thought it was important to continue the event, and is glad to see it survive the pandemic.

She’s come around to the idea of serving as City Marshal. 

“I’m really not comfortable when people say, ‘You do so much for the community.’ It’s the community that does all the work. I’m just the instigator.”

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