Shirl Boone finds her calling as program manager at GYG

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FRANKLIN—Shirl Boone of Southampton County is where she needs to be in life.



“I’ve always known I wanted to help people,” said the program manager at Guiding Young Girls in downtown Franklin.

“It was because of my upbringing, I guess,” said Boone, who credits her mother.

Ten years ago at Old Dominion University, Boone majored in criminal justice, studying to become a probation officer. Human services counseling was another topic of interest, but one that really spoke to her.

“This is really what I want to do,” she said.

That calling led to working with children having behavior issues at The Pines Residential Treatment Center in Portsmouth.

“I really liked working with people that needed assistance,” said Boone.

From 2008 to 2013, she worked as a counselor for the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

During that time, though, Boone saw the need to expand her abilities.

“I just wanted to grow. With a master’s degree I can move forward…without it I couldn’t be a supervisor,” she said.

Last May, Boone completed that requirement, and is in the midst of becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

Also last year is when the opportunity came up for her to work at GYG, and she started right away in her position.

As program manager, Boone supervises therapeutic drug treatments, intensive in-home services and mental health skills-building program.

Counselors come to clients at their homes for the sake of establishing stability, involving families and avoiding placements in foster care, psychiatric hospitals or residential treatment sites.

Adults can be treated provided they meet one of three diagnoses, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression.

Skills-building can include teaching daily living habits of personal hygiene or how to clean a home.

“Everyday skills that we take for granted,” added Boone.

The services that GYG offers are paid through Medicaid, she said. The Department of Mental Health Services determines what Medicaid will cover.

Though her work doesn’t require physical hands-on treatment, Boone is responsible for getting the clients the services they need.

She is on call 24-hours every day. Though there aren’t many calls after hours.

“But if there’s a crisis, they’ll definitely call me,” said Boone, who accepts that as part of her work.

“I really found my calling after all these years,” she said. “I’ve not wanted to do anything else since I came here.”