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Thank you, Shirley Raymond

First in a series.
You’ve heard about a diamond in the rough? Or the rose between two thorns? In Harrison County, we have just those sorts who live and work among the rest of us rough thorns. Sadly but true, we often think we’re too busy to lend a hand to others.
In case you’ve never noticed, we hope in the next few weeks to call your attention to some people who spend a good deal of their time improving the quality of life for others.
One woman in particular has worked for years trying to keep anyone from being homeless, hungry or cold in Harrison County. That can be a pretty large order these days.
We tip our hats to Shirley Raymond of Depauw, director of Harrison County Community Services, and offer up our warm gratitude for her unselfish services.
She has, of course, had lots of help over the years, because no one accomplishes much alone. Those people can take a bow also. We aren’t sure who they all are, so we wouldn’t begin to try to name them.
We think of Shirley particularly because a couple of weeks ago she was the main source in a story about diminishing public funds for some of the programs that help the poor. That budget crunch led a friend of mine to ask, ‘Does community services get riverboat money?’
‘How much?’
‘As much as they have asked for, from the county and from the Harrison County Community Foundation,’ I replied.
‘Well, good,’ she said, somewhat amazed at the answer. I’m still not sure she believed me, but I told her that the agency always keeps its requests reasonable and uses all of its magic powers to get funds whenever and wherever else possible.
My friend added: ‘They deserve everything they can get. That’s what that riverboat money should be used for.’
A couple of days later, I ran into Shirley at a council meeting. She was on the agenda to ask for $208,000 in riverboat revenue for the year, only a few thousand more than the agency got last year from the riverboat. (The request had gone in before the agency learned of the latest round of cuts.)
I said to her, ‘Shirley, I don’t think you’re going to have a minute’s problem with your request. You’re so conservative everyone knows you’re not asking for anything you absolutely don’t need. Your agency never asks for a big increase or for money to start new programs.’
‘We’re not into pie-in-the-sky,’ she said, matter-of-factly.
(I was right, I’m happy to say.)
Shirley is in part so successful with what she does because people trust her. She’s a native of Harrison County, born 57 years ago in the land of her ancestors. She reflects her heritage: good, salt-of-the-earth, hard-working people with a warm heart and a desire to help others improve their lot in life.
When it comes to directing community services, Shirley knows her stuff. She’s been at it more than 35 years. She’s seen presidents come and go and national and state entitlement programs swell and shrink. She provides a lot of the glue that’s kept the agency together, through thick and mostly thin.
She’s never stopped trying to improve the lives of others, and for that we say, ‘Thank you, Shirley. We wish you well and many, many more years at the helm of Harrison County Community Services.’