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Surrounded By Children

Editor’s note: Today, The DAILY LEADERcontinues a series of stories compiled by University of Mississippijournalism students during a field trip to Lincoln County in lateOctober. Today’s feature is on Janet Dunaway, who volunteers in avariety of ways at West Lincoln Attendance Center.

    

    Every day, Janet Dunaway drives to McComb, where she has afull-time job. Then she rushes back to Brookhaven and reports tovolunteer work at the school where her two  children study.

    Serving as secretary of the parent-teacher organization, substituteteaching, fundraising and helping with teacher appreciationluncheons at the end of the year – these are only a small part ofher school duties. After school, she takes her children to tennis,dance and guitar lessons.

    Dunaway has no spare time, but she is absolutely happy.

    “I just love being with kids; I love teachers and theadministration in the school,” said Dunaway.

    She has volunteered at West Lincoln Attendance Center for 10 yearsand she can’t imagine her life without kids.

    “It is better when parents are involved in kids’ education,” shesaid. “My kids go to a small public school. It’s like a big familywhere everybody knows everybody.”

    Married 17 years, Dunaway has lived in Lincoln County all her life.The Bogue Chitto school where she studied as a youth is 10 minutesfrom her kids’ school, and she fondly recalls the many volunteersthere who helped when help was needed.

    “Teachers in schools are so busy. That’s why I help with everythingthey ask me,” she said.

    Dunaway has been volunteering all her life.

    Before getting married, she volunteered at a Boswell Group Home andhelped with Vacation Bible School at her church. Now she worksfull-time as an X-ray technician for a group of pediatricians inMcComb.

    “I see some of the school kids at both of my jobs,” she said. “I’mconstantly surrounded by children.”

    Though her schedule is hectic, Dunaway can’t imagine doing withouteither her job or her volunteer work.

    “Time is my biggest challenge,” she said. “It’s very important tomanage to do what you need and what you want to. I love people. I’drather be very busy and complain about being tired than be at homeevery single day.”

    Her 15-year-old son Brady and 12-year-old daughter Laura Leighshare their mother’s enthusiasm.

    “I love her being close to us,” said Laura Leigh, who isconsidering following her mom’s example and carving out somevolunteer duty for herself some day.

    Being around children is always unpredictable and sometimesshocking.

    “But it’s not necessarily a bad shock,” said Dunaway. “Surprise isa better word. We learn from the kids as much as they learn fromus.”

    Despite busy workdays, Dunaway’s family life is happy andharmonized.

    “I like to shop. Beaches are my favorite place,” she said. “I loveto spend my spare time with my husband and my family. I’ve neverfelt that volunteering takes away my family time. I’ve started tobe involved in school for the very reason that my kids studiedthere.”

    Dunaway thinks everyone should strive to make a difference in hisor her community. And family always comes first. With Laura Leighsmiling in the background, she confessed, “My family is what I’mmost proud of.”