Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Senior selected as Wyoming's representative

Volunteer work doesn’t go unnoticed

 


When Merrilyn Shanebrook found out she was selected to represent Wyoming for the Fabulous 50 program, she didn’t even know what they were talking about.

“I didn’t even know much about it until I was told I won,” Shanebrook said.

In fact, she is still finding out about the program.

The Older Americans Act is celebrating its 50th year; and as a way to celebrate, they decided to select one outstanding senior from each state to act as the face of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities Fabulous 50 program.

The vote was close, Shanebrook won by two votes.

Shanebrook, who didn’t even know about the nomination, was nominated by former GHSC Executive Director Beth Whitman. Whitman wrote a nomination letter, which spoke highly of Shanebrook’s volunteer work within the community.

“Merrilyn Shanebrook is a prime example of a selfless person who is always available to assist her community and those individuals who need help,” Whitman’s letter stated.

“Merrilyn worked for many years as an EMT and then at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, assisting patients with their Medicaid/Medicare billing. Merrilyn still does this as a volunteer for local senior citizens and people with disabilities.”

Over the years, Shanebrook has volunteered for many organizations, including serving on the GHSC Board of Directors for 8 years and acting as the board’s president for six of those years.

“Her service to the community and seniors of Green River has been outstanding,” Whitman’s letter said. “Merrilyn has always committed personal time whenever she was asked. Merrilyn kept the senior center afloat during a difficult time when there were no employees available to work. She cooked lunch, cleaned the dining room and did dishes until positions were filled. At the same time, as president of the board, she provided fiscal assistance to our center by helping with grant writing and presentations to our funders at commissioner and state meetings. When the center didn’t have a director in place, Merrilyn had to step in and provide management to the center’s dozen employees.”

But her efforts don’t stop there, Shanebrook has been known to take GHSC patrons to doctor’s appointments when they didn’t have a ride or take patrons home from the senior center. She also helps out with the center’s Meals on Wheels program by delivering meals if there is no driver. She is also known for all of her help with the public, pancake breakfasts, dinner and dances the center hosts.

Not only does Shanebrook arrive early to help out with activities, but she often is seen staying late to help the staff clean, which includes sweeping, mopping and loading items into trucks.

“Merrilyn is the first to volunteer when anyone needs a helping hand,” she said.

As if Shanebrook wasn’t busy enough, she also finds time to volunteer at her church.

“Merrilyn was also on the board for the Green River United Methodist Church for many years. This past year, as the church closed their doors for the final time, she helped in the sale of their facility and distribution of their property,” Whitman said. “She spent countless hours overseeing this immense endeavor. It was heartbreaking for Merrilyn to see her beloved church dissolve, but as usual, she faced this sad time with courage and commitment to a job well done.”

Now, Shanebrook will be honored on a national level. She said a Fabulous 50 booklet with the winners pictures and information will be made created.

These booklets will be passed out to members of the United States Congress and to state and local officials.

“They hope this will put a human face on those seniors who help,” she said. “This is the first time they’ve done something like this.”

After reading Whitman’s nomination letter, Shanebrook became emotional.

“I think it’s an honor,” Shanebrook said. “I read that letter Beth wrote, and it just makes me feel good.”

Although it was nice to receive such an honor, Shanebrook doesn’t let something like this go to her head.

“That was never my purpose. I just do it to help people,” she said. “I was a little embarrassed to get this.”

 

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