LEADING VOLUNTEERS
Robert Sheibley, the systems engineer lead for Utility Helicopters Project Office, leads a family of volunteers in his spare time. His family was recognized as Madison's Family of the Year for 2010. With Sheibley at Kid's Kingdom in Madison, are, from left, daughter Katie, wife Jennifer, and sons Matthew, Greg and Steven.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Robert Sheibley and his family are now among Madison's most impressive families.

This systems engineer lead for the Utility Helicopters Project Office, Program Executive Office for Aviation, has led his family into Madison's history books by being named the city's Family of the Year for 2010.

As part of that honor, a portrait of the family of six will hang in Madison City Hall during the year. They will be recognized at the Madison Street Festival in October and they will have a special place of honor in the city's Christmas parade.

But beyond the accolades, the Sheibley family is much like any other - two parents working to raise four children to become happy, productive and contributing members of society.

"It's an honor," Robert said as he gathered with his family at Kid's Kingdom in Madison. "It's something you don't expect for the things that you do. This is based on what they've all done in the community and as a family. I'm really proud of them."

Sheibley's family includes his wife, Jennifer; and children, Katie, 17; Steven, 14; Greg, 13; and Matthew, 11. The children attend either Catholic High School or St. John's Catholic School. Their mom, who has been a stay-at-home mom, now works as a teacher's aide at St. John's.

"The city is encouraging community involvement because the award really does recognize community involvement. Most of the questions asked us about what we do in the community or as a family within the community," said mom, Jennifer.

"They also asked about what holds our family together," added daughter, Katie.

Each family member has quite an impressive volunteer resume. Dad Robert has volunteered as a basketball coach at St. John's church and school, as a board member for the family's neighborhood association, as a Red Cross blood donor and with the Indian Guides program. Mom Jennifer has volunteered as a teacher aide, substitute, room mom, chaperone, fund-raiser, yearbook contributor and a PTA officer at her children's school. Both are active with St. John's Parent/Teacher Organization, and Catholic High's Athletic Booster Club and Parent's Association.

Daughter Katie has served as the public relations director for the Huntsville Hospital Foundation Leadership Council, and has been active in several organizations at church and school, including recently being elected as the Student Council president for her senior year at Catholic High School. Both she and brother Steven are active in Catholic High's Campus Ministry, Student Ambassadors and various sports teams. Brothers Greg and Matthew have been involved with sports at St. John's, with Gregory also participating in Safety Patrol and Math Team.

All four children have been on the "A" Honor Roll at their schools and have excelled in several different school academic and school programs. Katie, Steven and Greg recorded more than 200 community service hours in 2009.

"We are a very close family that supports each other on a daily basis by attending one another's school and athletic activities, helping with homework and projects, and pitching in to get chores done around the house ... We are truly a family that respects and admires one another and enjoys both the togetherness and the individuality each member brings to the family," said their nomination for the Madison award.

The family makes it a point to eat dinners together often, play board games together whenever they have a chance, and spend time together on camping trips.

The Sheibleys were nominated for the award in the spring. They were chosen from among three families to receive the award in May at a Madison City Council meeting.

"There are so many other families who are deserving of this award," Jennifer said. "It's an honor to us that someone thought enough of us to nominate us for this award."

"You do the community things because you see a need in the community and you want to make it a better place for your family," added Robert. "You don't do these things to get an award."
Every family member has favorite activities. Matthew, the youngest of the family, has enjoyed Indian Guides with his dad, and playing baseball and basketball. He plans on playing football this fall. Greg enjoys serving his church as an altar server, playing basketball and baseball, being president of the National Junior Honor Society and being on the Math Team. Steven has enjoyed basketball and track, and serving with Campus Ministry and Student Ambassadors.

Their big sister Katie has especially enjoyed the Student Council, National Honor Society, Campus Ministry, Student Ambassadors, Latin Honor Society, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation and track. She qualified to go to the state track meet this year to compete in pole vaulting, javelin, discuss throw and high jump. But a serious knee injury that occurred in practice kept her from competing.
The volunteer highlight of the summer for all four kids and their mom is helping with Vacation Bible School at their church.

"I'm someone for the kids to look up to and that makes me feel good," Katie said. "I like getting to share my faith with them, and giving and getting lots of hugs."

The kids' activities have caused their parents to pull back some from their own volunteer activities.

"We used to be a lot more involved," Robert said. "But now the kids are so involved that we have to focus our time on supporting them and all the things they do. We've tried to set good examples for them and they have followed those examples."

Mom Jennifer's volunteering often revolved around her children as they were growing up.

"I've always just wanted to be with the kids. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I wanted to be really involved. And I did that," she said.

Some of the children's involvement has been dictated by their school curriculum. Catholic High requires their students to do 100 hours in volunteer service prior to graduation.

"Service has really been encouraged by our schools," Katie said. "I've done 300 hours of service since my freshman year. Even though it is required, I have really enjoyed it."

"It's just good helping the community," Steven added.

All six believe it's important for families to find ways to volunteer in their community.

"We've been blessed with so much. For us, this is just trying to give back to the community. We want to pass on the blessings to somebody else," Robert said.

Page last updated Fri June 25th, 2010 at 15:08