A family that serves together and sings together

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Wednesday's Woman

By Becca Owsley

Getting to know Tanya, Holly and Xela:
What they do together: Music, serving and family time.
Ages: 55, 37 and 14
Movie they watch together: “The Color Purple”
Pets: Xela has a dog and two cats
Mealtime: The family loves to get together for big meals on special occasions


For one local family, mother and daughter togetherness is a part of work and play.

Tanya Thomas works with her daughter, Holly Brim, and Brim sings with her daughter, Xela Klockow.

Thomas has worked for SpringHaven Domestic Violence Program for 14 years and is its executive director. Brim has worked with the organization for 12 years and is currently a victim advocate in Washington County working one day a week in the Elizabethtown office. She is also working with the economic justice program.

“The hardest part is not calling her Mom at work,” Brim said adding referring to her as Tanya is pretty difficult.

Thomas said she keeps her personal life at home and her professional life at work.

“Holly will say I am harder on her. I am not,” she said adding she just goes by the policy and procedure manual, the same as everyone else.

But working for a small non-profit organization, it’s more of a family atmosphere anyway, Thomas said.

“I like working with my mom,” Brim said.

She’s a good director and well respected, Brim said. Co-workers found out that Brim won’t give them inside information because Thomas doesn’t share that kind of stuff, keeping everything professional.

Even before they came to SpringHaven, Thomas said their passions were the same.

“When I was little, I always wanted to be a missionary,” she said.

Thomas and Brim have been on several mission trips. With that same passion, they are both in a field where they are helping people.

“We are both doing the same thing we love,” Thomas said.

Brim’s daughter Xela also has a giving heart. Thomas said the first time Xela visited SpringHaven she found a cat that had gotten into the basement and had kittens. One was a runt and she insisted they take care of it.

She took care of the kittens and found them homes. Except for the runt, she kept it and named it Squirt. She still has the cat.

Thomas said Xela is the type of teen who reaches out to the kids being picked on.

“It’s something that’s in us as a family,” Thomas said. “We want to give. We want to serve.”

The family also shares a passion for music. Thomas was once a music minister at their church and the family always had sung together.

Brim and Xela now sing as a mother-daughter duo.

“I tell people she’s been singing since she was in my stomach,” Brim said.

Xela could harmonize at an early age, Thomas said.

“I keep saying we are going to be the next Judds,” Brim said.

The duo have performed at many local fundraising events like Via Colori, SpringHaven and Cardboard Nation.

“If you’ve ever heard them sing, it’s very special,” Thomas said

Thomas thinks their love of music is genetic and comes natural to them.

“Music brings out the best in people and calms the spirit,” she said.

Brim said when Xela sings she draws people to her.

“We may not be the best singers but what we bring to the table is that we are genuine and love what we do,” Brim said.

Brim said the family is close because of her mother.

“She’s been the glue that holds us together,” Brim said. “She’s a very strong, hard-headed person but I love her for it.”

Daughter and granddaughter said Thomas passed that down to the other generations.

“She started it,” Xela said.

Thomas said their strength comes from her faith.

“We know we can’t do anything without God,” she said.

Thomas said she tried to install in Brim to be a strong woman but not pushy.

“You can be strong and be kind at the same time and I’ve seen her blossom into this beautiful woman,” Thomas said.

She said the greatest gift Brim had given her was Xela.

“Being a mother is so special but being a nana, oh my gosh,” she said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.