Local resident Jean Srodes was named Volunteer of the Year for Families Leading Change at the 20th annual awards banquet held in Charleston November 15.
She was recognized for her commitment to the youth of Pocahontas County as well as for the many programs she is responsible for creating.
Srodes landed in Pocahontas County after retiring from a career of traveling the world as an airline attendant.
Like many retirees here in Pocahontas County, she brought her special talents and skills with her. She and her husband, Joel, reside in Marlinton with their therapy dog, Dixie.
Some of the after-school programs Srodes has started for students in the county include golf, horseback riding, quilting, ukulele club, and radio club at WVMR.
Because she loves working with the many groups who can reach kids, she found funding to purchase kayaks for Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation’s summer activities.
Dustin Lambert, principal at Marlinton Middle School, stepped up to lead the first kayaking expedition down the Greenbrier River last year.
Srodes was also instrumental in obtaining the equipment and funding for HAM radio classes at Pocahontas County High School. Any student who was interested in completing the course and taking the licensing test received a radio and became a licensed operator, free of charge.
In addition to developing and funding programs for students, Srodes also makes sure students get to the programs.
She provides healthy snacks for them and goes out of her way to make sure permission slips get signed by a parent or guardian. Because of the latter, Srodes gets to know the families of her students which gives her greater insight into how to help the community.
She is well-known for her skills at writing mini-grants, as well, and has found funding for many STEM activities in our schools. Some of these include horticulture and wellness activities. All a teacher needs to do is mention what is needed for the classroom and somehow Srodes finds a way to get it funded.
Families Leading Change is a statewide coalition that supports, funds and trains families who want to work with their principals and teachers to make their hometown schools stronger. It also brings information to state and federal government officials to help them learn from the local expertise and wisdom of families across West Virginia.