Family Support Council goes back to basics |
by Sheila Gardner

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Family Support Council goes back to basics

Shannon Litz/The Record-Courier

The word is out.

Shirley Gibson is back at the Family Support Council of Douglas County, and this time, she's in charge.

Gibson, 60, took over as executive director in February.

"I was welcomed with open arms," she said in a recent interview. "It feels like old home week. It feels really good. I always loved what I did here."

“This is just meant to be. It makes me feel good to be able to be here for somebody who needs assistance.”
Shirley Gibson
Family Support Council executive director

Gibson was hired in 2001 by former director Karen Edwards to open and manage Abbey Crossing, the domestic violence shelter.

She remained at the 12-bed shelter for about five years.

"We built our shelter from the ground up," Gibson said. "I am pretty proud of that building."

After leaving Family Support, Gibson went to work managing shelters for children and the homeless run by the Volunteers of America in Northern Nevada.

She also has worked as a case manager for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe's emergency youth shelter.

For 14 years, Gibson was a law enforcement officer in Arizona before she and her husband Larry moved to Nevada.

When an opening for executive director came up in December, Gibson was hired.

"This is just meant to be," she said, looking around her comfortable office. "It makes me feel good to be able to be here for somebody who needs assistance."

Despite her energy and organizational skills, Gibson said the most effective trait she brings to the job is her caring and compassion.

"A lot of it comes from my experience as a law enforcement officer working crimes against women and children," she said. "That set the basis for me. I stuck with it."

Gibson is energized and inspired by her staff and the community.

"I came into this facility in February to a great group of women and a great community base," she said.

She's joined several community organizations, and is busy writing grants to finance the agency's programs which are free to the community.

"Funding for grants is few and far between," Gibson said. "There are a lot more programs competing for those nonprofit dollars."

Gibson and her board of directors are planning a fundraiser June 15 at Minden Park.

"The Grillin' & Chillin' Cookoff" is billed as the battle of the Valley's best backyard BBQers.

The event begins at 5 p.m. and Gibson hopes families will attend.

Tickets are $15 and comedian Kat Simmons is the MC.

"It's a new event and it's going to be great," Gibson said.

Among her supporters, Gibson counts her husband Larry, an engineer with Southwest Gas Corp.

Between them, they have seven children and 11 grandchildren.

"He is really supportive of what I do. Larry is one of my strongest allies and a blessing to me. He makes it very easy for me to do my job," she said.

Gibson said her emphasis as executive director is getting back to the basics, to the philosophy which created the agency in 1982.

"We are a family support, that's what I believe in," she said.

"My goal would be that we never need the Family Support Council or the shelter. Wouldn't that be wonderful? A world without abuse?" she said. "But we can't do it alone."

Family Support Council programs reach out to all ages from toddlers through adults.

Gibson said she hopes to add more programs to serve senior citizens.

"I want people to know we're open for business. We're here to assist families with needs, and provide a safe secure place for victims of domestic and sexual abuse," Gibson said.