DeMOTTE — DeMotte resident Sharon Colee has been named the Grand Marshal for this year’s Touch of Dutch parade and festival happening in August. Colee is the executive director of the Jasper County Community Services and is an advocate for the aging and the community. She has been with the JCCS since June 2003, and her love and enthusiasm for the job is seen everywhere she goes.
Colee and her husband, Larry, can be seen around the county playing guitar and singing. She loves music, especially Gospel and country. “My brother and I were encouraged to pursue music,” she said. So she took guitar lessons and often performed at senior centers and homes in the north Hammond area, where she was raised. Colee was born in Kentucky, and her parents moved to northwest Indiana when she was only 3 years old. Colee continues to share her voice with the seniors at the centers she runs and at other venues.
Colee also credits her parents with teaching her to be a volunteer and to give back to her community. She and Larry instilled this in their four sons as well.
“Jasper County has the strongest networking community,” she said. “There are so many people in this town who are willing to help and serve their community.”
Colee became an senior advocate last year and is glad to be a voice for seniors who may not have one. She joined the SAGA, Senior and Adult Guardianship Advocate program, as a board member for Jasper and Newton County. The non-profit group acts similar to the child advocacy group, CASA. Volunteers become legal guardians for seniors who need guidance and assistance.
As a graduate of the first Jasper County Leadership program Colee understands and feels strongly about volunteering and knowing the needs of a community.
“This honor is humbling, serving others is what we as individuals have the privilege to do and there are many who go above and beyond in time, generosity and caring for those within our community,” she said.
I love living here! From those that live in our towns, our churches, city and county leaders and our businesses, we have people that give back and continue to reach out in times of need. We are a community of growth and opportunity for those who are seeking a place to call home.
“I look forward to the Touch of Dutch parade and the festival that allows others to see a small part of what DeMotte represents. I truly look forward to seeing the smiling faces and waving to the many that are making a difference in our community as I thank you for this honor and opportunity to represent what DeMotte does best…caring and serving others,” Colee concluded.
Colee was working in LaPorte in a home for abused children. She said she was singing at an event in Wolcott when she was approached by a board member from the JCCS. He asked her if she’d be interested in being the director for the community organization. She hadn’t had any experience, but she felt God leading her into a new career and she hasn’t looked back since. “I love what I do, the outreach that we have,” she said. “It’s not like a job, it’s a ministry. I’m not going anywhere.”
After 16 years, she continues to enjoy going to work every day. She said she is always looking for opportunities to speak about becoming a volunteer and she can help them find their niche. “Even if it’s only an hour or two a month,” she said. “I can find the right place for a volunteer. There is time to commit, even if it’s only an hour a month.”
“Find your passion, either in volunteering or in your job,” she said. “People who volunteer are happier people. It brings joy to your life when you volunteer.”