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Dement is a ‘ball of fire’ volunteer for United Board of Missions

By Darragh Doiron

The News staff writer

It’s okay that Shirley Dement talks about herself in third person. All three sound pretty nice.

“I guess Shirley is a people person,” Dement said.

Her daughter calls her something else.

“Mom is a ball of fire,” said Brooks Cima, Dement’s daughter. “She has been a ‘professional volunteer’ on the local scene for over 20 years, with most of that spent in service with the United Board of Missions.”

At this past week’s UBM open house to promote office renovations, Dement proudly showed offices where area needy can get help with paying utilities and prescriptions, food and clothing. She’s gearing up for the holiday Share-A-Toy.

Now president of the board, Dement said a church member asked her to attend a UBM meeting years ago.

“I was just amazed at what the people were doing,” she recalled.

Gentle nudges got her active in other UBM projects and now she finds the work rewarding. Talking to clients, such as grandmothers raising grandchildren, is emotional, she said.

“When jobs are hard to find, that’s when United Board of Missions is needed,” Dement said.

When grandmothers come in and humbly ask for a toy, Dement wants to help.

“If it were up to me, I’d give them the whole building,” she said.

In addition to her UBM work, Shirley has an active church life at the First United Methodist Church in Groves where she is in the choir and serves on the worship committee.

“Her family is very important to her. She and my father will celebrate 54 years of marriage in May of 2008,” Cima said

Cima said her mother is active in the lives of her grandchildren: Mindy, recently married and doing post-graduate work at the University of St. Thomas; Erin, a prospective May graduate from University of St. Andrews; Caitlin, a recent graduate from Baylor University now serving in the U.S. Air Force; and Derrick, a freshman engineering major at Louisiana State University.

Contact this reporter at ddoiron@panews.com.