By Jordan Richart
Shannon Hunsucker can still remember driving through Medora for the first time while visiting her boyfriend.
She recalls loving the small town feel of the place and remembers thinking there were areas of the town that needed some improvement.
That boyfriend eventually became her husband, and her ideas of helping by giving attention to certain areas of the town turned into action.
“Prior to September 2011, I had never heard of Medora,” she said. “Driving through the town, I knew I wanted to get involved and get to know the community more because I have fallen in love with it.”
Hunsucker was named as someone in the community who goes above and beyond for her role with Blue River Services after-school services, as president of the Medora Park Board and as a member of the READ Jackson County board. The recognition is something that came as a surprise to the 39-year-old woman.
“I just feel like helping out and being part of the community and that it’s something we should do,” she said.
The biggest way she serves the town is through her job as a district manager for Blue River Services. As such, Hunsucker oversees after-school programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade at Medora. She also oversees programming at schools in Washington County.
Through the program, she and her staff help students with homework and getting additional academic help, providing them with activities and more.
“For the older kids, we do college, career or military readiness,” she said. “We will explore college programs and direct work careers for them.”
The younger students receive help with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as social-emotional learning programming.
There’s also other programming that helps students with life skills, such as baking, cooking, dancing, art and even activities such as taekwondo. The program also fulfills other needs, including providing personal hygiene products and food to those who need it.
Hunsucker has made it a point to get families involved, too.
“We will have family nights to give an opportunity for a night for parents and kids to be part of education together,” she said. “We always have meals and games on those nights and try to do them once a month. You really get the kids involved on those nights.”
It’s during those times that Hunsucker experiences the most rewarding part of her job.
“I love seeing the families laugh together and be together during our time,” she said. “It’s also rewarding when you’re out in the community and you hear ‘Hey, Miss Shannon,’ and a student comes up to give me a hug and tells me about their day. Knowing you play a part in their life is rewarding.”
Hunsucker also has been involved with the Medora Park Board, working to improve the town’s park and making it a place for people to gather and take pride in it.
She became involved in the Medora parks through her year in Leadership Jackson County in 2019-20.
Hunsucker was part of a group that fundraised and purchased upgraded playground equipment for the park.
The equipment was installed, and soon after, the previous park board president said they were going to retire from it and suggested Hunsucker go for it.
“There was no way I was going to turn something like that down,” she said. “It has been a great way to help improve the town.”
Some of the initiatives that she has been part of since becoming the park board president are a community cleanup day, a farmers market and the Medora Freedom Celebration.
“The freedom celebration used to be a big thing with great attendance before it faded away, and we worked with Medora Pentecostal to bring it back,” she said. “Each of the two years, there has been a great turnout, and it’s exciting to help be part of some of that.”
Some of Hunsucker’s other work involves READ Jackson County, an organization that focuses on promoting literacy throughout the county.
One day, she saw a Facebook post about how the organization was in need of board members, and she felt like it was a good fit for her.
Hunsucker said it is important to volunteer and be involved in the community to make an impact. It can help show the positives in the world, which can sometimes feel like it trends more negative.
“We’ve got to be there to help each other and provide as much positivity as we can,” she said. “There is so much negative in the world now, and helping improve the community is something that’s important and shows positivity that will help make things here better.”