Sharp will be missed

December 30, 2003

Dear Editor:

Family Services Association of Boyle County is the successor to the Family Welfare Association of Boyle County (1930), which was the successor to the Community Work Board, which was founded in 1916. That makes Family Services perhaps the oldest private charitable organization in Boyle County. From its building ("Community House") on South Third Street, where it rents space to the American Red Cross and Boyle County Habitat for Humanity, it dispenses aid to persons needing emergency assistance in paying for rent, utilities and food. For many in Danville and Boyle County, it is a place of hope.

Family Services Association has been blessed with a string of extraordinary women who have served as its executive directors. I call them "saints." These include Louise Robinson, Brenda Kellam and Janie Pass. No less extraordinary is the current executive director, Jeannine Sharp. For more than 15 years now she has occupied the position. That's longer than any of the other persons named.


An intelligent, self-effacing and dedicated woman, Jeannine receives every client with kindness and a complete absence of condescension, listens empathetically as she or he tells a tale of anxiety and need, and then responds compassionately with both wisdom and financial help. Because of her long experience in the job and keen insight into human nature, she can also spot the rare person seeking to abuse the system and respond with a polite but firm, "No."

If Family Services resources are low, she knows how to network with other local agencies to cobble together a package of assistance that will ease a client through a temporary crisis. Despite the fact that the salary is low and the sole benefit is a month's vacation each year, she has never taken the four weeks off and has repeatedly refused to accept pay raises approved for her by the Board of Directors. As a recently retired board member whose tenure has coincided with her years of service, I can say that she has been an absolute delight to work with.

At the end of this month "Saint" Jeannine will give up the work she calls "my baby" and enter retirement. Already the past few weeks have seen many people she has helped coming by the office to say "good-bye" and to wish her farewell. Some leave with tears in their eyes. That's because when they turned to the City of Danville or Boyle County for help, those bodies wore Jeannine's face. She was not an impersonal agent but a friend.

Like them, I will miss her very much.

Milton Scarborough


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