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By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — “Helen Gollihugh has worked tireless for for Panhandle Community Services for over 32 years,” said Linda Duke, director for Collingsworth Home Delivered Meals. “She has spent that time devoted to helping others far beyond what was required of her by PCS. She has a heart of gold and would do absolutely anything for anyone.”
Gollihugh began her career with PCS in 1988 by providing employment training and other vocational services to disadvantaged sectors of the population through the Job Training Partnership Act.
Through this partnership, she also helped individuals attend school. Gollihugh said she would see those she had helped in the community, and they would tell her, “Helen, you helped me go to school and I could not have done it without you. Now I don’t have to depend on anyone but myself.”
She processed weatherization applications for families with a high energy burden, requested utility assistance and worked as a HUD specialist before retirement. Her widespread territory included Collingsworth, Childress, Wheeler, Donley, Hall and Briscoe Counties.
She remembers well a moment of deep appreciation from an elderly neighbor who would not have been able to afford medication if PCS had not helped with utility assistance for a high electrical bill.
Gollihugh also recalled a gentleman who received housing assistance in 2020, and his gratitude for having a safe home with heat and water.
“This job has been so fulfilling and I am so proud to have been part of helping people,” she said.
During Gollihugh’s years of service, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs recognized PCS as one of the top agencies in the state. In 2004, Gollihugh received a state award for providing excellent services and transitioning persons in the Texas Panhandle out of poverty.
The mission of PCS is not only to help families that are in crisis but to help them in such a way that they get on their feet and reach a point where they no longer need public assistance.
Because of Gollihugh, PCS has exceeded that goal by helping families become self-sufficient. After announcing her retirement, she received the following letter from a client.
I’m sending you this email to say thank you so very much for what you have done for me and my family. It saddens me that you will be leaving. While I know that retirement is a good think and that you have definitely earned it, I’m going to miss you. You have served us with excellence, tireless dedication, professionalism, compassion and empathy, to name a few. I have known you for eight years and I have grown to love and respect you.
You are a very special lady. You have made such a difference in my life, for me and my son. Whoever they get to replace you will have some big shoes to fill. It won’t be the same. You have become life family to us and we really hope that you will stay in touch. We wish you all the best because that is truly what you deserve.
God bless you and your family. Stay safe. J. and E.
“Helen has truly made an impact in the counties she has served,” said Christy Hilbert of Amarillo, PCS communications director. “Thank you for all you have done. You are appreciated.”
In her retirement, Gollihugh hopes to spend more time with family.
“We’ve got a camper trailer that we’ve used three times,” she said. “Even if it’s just to Pioneer Park, my husband Larry and I hope to get away.”
The couple also plans to visit their daughter Rhonda Normandin and husband Shawn, grandchildren Taylor Normandin, Jill and Michael Compton and Lynsi and Johnny Attardi and great grands Allee, Madison, Nathan and Isabelle in Clarksville, Tenn.
Daughter Cynthia Swaim lives in Wellington along with grandson Nick Derr, wife Mari and grandkids Christian, R.J., Sophia and Lyric.
Granddaughter Elizabeth Whorton, husband J.J. and great grands Adelyn and Madilee live in Hollis.
Gollihugh and her family just buried grandson Jacob Derr, age 29 of Hollis, last Saturday, Jan. 2. He served as a an advanced paramedic and flight medic for EMS in Southwestern Oklahoma.
From the description of Jacob’s service to not only his community but beyond the border of Harmon County, Okla., his traits reflected the heart of his grandmother, Helen Gollihugh.