Mary Whitaker, executive director of Webster Parish Office of Community Services has a passion for helping people. As she begins her second year of service as director, Whitaker appreciates the opportunity to do what she loves.
"I want to thank the Webster Parish Police Jury for appointing me for a second year and giving me an opportunity to serve the community," Whitaker said. "One of my passions in life is to help people, serve people and give to people. This job gives me the opportunity to fulfill that passion in life."
Whitaker said it has been a good year and looks forward to the next year.
Police jury president Jim Bonsall said Whitaker works hard as director.
"She was a good choice for the position," he said during a recent meeting of the police jury when Whitaker celebrated her first year anniversary on the job.
Whitaker feels having a dedicated team, staff and board of directors is critical in the set-up for success.
"I have a good team that wants to do it, and I want to do it," she said. "It's hard work, but it is good work and if you are able to give yourself to a good cause, then you don't mind the hard work or long hours."
Whitaker said the biggest challenges her organization faced in 2013 were budget cuts.
"We survived those," she said. "We had to do some cutting in salaries, but they were minor and the staff understood."
Whitaker is a retired Air Force major and served 22 years. In addition, she also was the head start director and a contract compliance auditor for Head Start after retiring from her military career.
Looking into the future, Whitaker wants to have services for individuals that will not be a handout but a hand up. She believes partnerships with local entities will benefit individuals and give them life and job skills.