In March 14 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kim Graham, RCN Reporter
Helping the community comes naturally to Shirley Roberson. Whether she is at the Russell County Health Department assisting a family in crisis or in local schools teaching nutrition, Roberson is devoted to serving others and empowering them to lead healthy lives.
A health educator with Lake Cumberland Area Health Department in Russell County, Roberson is quick to say she's just doing her job but she consistently goes the extra mile to teach folks about healthy lifestyles.
"It's my job. I get paid to do it," said Roberson. "We're here to meet the needs of the community. Whatever needs to be done, you just do it."
Roberson puts her philosophy and work ethic to use each day committing time and attention to nurturing healthy lifestyles.
"Shirley is a very hardworking lady who works long hours and never complains," said co-worker Bonnie Tucker. "She is very concerned about the community and the health and welfare of its citizens."
Her days include instilling healthy attitudes and habits in youngsters from daycare to high school and encouraging those habits among senior adults.
From teaching classes with a focus on educating citizens to those that focus on instruction for educators, a dizzying schedule of programs keeps Roberson's calendar filled. Roberson has a genuine concern for people that shows through her actions.
"She has so many excellent programs in Russell County she is involved with," Tucker said. "Shirley is definitely an asset to the Health Department and the whole county."
Even after the normal work day, Roberson works health fairs, meets with many local health coalitions, works cooperatively with other health groups such as Russell County Partners in Prevention, and conducts weekly Cooper Clayton smoking cessation classes.
"You have to be available when the community needs you," said Roberson. "You don't work the community around your job. You work your job around the community."
Known to many in the community as the tobacco lady, Roberson's tireless efforts to educate people on the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke have led several local businesses to voluntarily adopt smoke free workplace policies.
"She encourages people to improve every area of their life," Tucker said.
She not only lends a hand, she also gives a hand up by educating people to make good decisions regarding their health.
"It is such an honor to have someone trust you enough to feel comfortable coming to you for help," Roberson said.
She could have gone to work outside the Russell County but wanted to focus her efforts at home.
"I'm really fortunate to have a job that I like," said Roberson. "At the health department, everybody is family. I've been working since I was 16 and I've never worked any place better."