The Shinnston News & Harrison County Journal has named Jo Anne McNemar as August’s Citizen of the Month, a program sponsored by Dorsey Funeral Home in Shinnston – locally owned & operated
By TRINA RUNNER
News & Journal Staff Writer
In an ironic twist, it was personal tragedy that first propelled Jo Anne McNemar into a profession that has changed countless lives over the past three decades. After a drunk driver killed her grandparents, she vowed to make her life’s mission that of education and prevention, hoping to spare others from the same pain.
Years later, she and her family endured another tragedy. Her sister, Teresa Lucente Rollins, was murdered. The painful chapter was featured on a national television show and proves the importance of family in the healing process.
“The blessing of having strong, loving parents has continually given me hope through the tough times,” said McNemar. “They showed us how to rely on our faith and family, working and praying together, and instilled a solid sense of love and commitment to service.”
McNemar has dedicated her life’s work to instilling hope in others and providing resources to aid in recovery and counseling efforts. She currently works for the Harrison County Family Resource Network as Partnership for Success Coordinator and Coordinator of the Harrison County Prevention Partnership.
Through her experience as a counselor, Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist, and working with the Harrison County Dream TEAM (Teens Encouraging Advocacy and Motivation), McNemar has worked with generations of citizens whose lives have been changed by treatment and prevention.
As a founding member of both the West Virginia State SADD (Students Against Drunk Drivers) Advisory Board and the West Virginia College Initiative on Alcohol Advisory Board, McNemar has proven to be an invaluable resource toward educating young people of the dangers of alcohol and drunk driving. Her efforts have been recognized as she won a national award for her work with the Clarksburg Mayor’s Youth Council.
Additionally, McNemar was recognized by the West Virginia Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse for her years of service and dedication and given the Excellence in Prevention Award for demonstrating exemplary service by the WV Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals. She also received the Dedicated Service Award from the WV Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
At the national level, her efforts have resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award and the United States Attorney’s Award for Community Outreach.
It was never about the accolades, however, for McNemar. Throughout her career, she has displayed an honest and consistent mission to help those who are struggling. Because of her faith, her family and her strong Italian work ethic, she has overcome personal tragedies in order to begin each day with purpose, pride and professionalism.
“I have been blessed and humbled to do what I love for a living,” she said. “We are all in this together and I hope to treat others with kindness and be joyful in my approach. It is a wonderful feeling knowing something you have done has empowered someone else to grow. Empowerment is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone.”