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Jim Sheehy is stepping down after a successful 12-year stint as executive director of the Grande Ronde Child Center. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Jim Sheehy speaks quietly and humbly of the 12 years he has spent as executive director of the Grande Ronde Child Center.
Not those who know him, however. They turn up the volume when discussing Sheehy, who is stepping down as executive director to take a position as clinical manager of the Grande Ronde Hospital Regional Medical Clinic.
“He is leaving big shoes to fill, shoes the size of Shaquille O’Neal’s,” said the GRCC’s Jim Mollerstrom, referring to the size 22 shoes worn by the former NBA star.
Mollerstrom will serve as interim director of the GRCC, based at 902 D Ave. since 1973, until a successor to Sheehy is named. He said the GRCC, which provides psychiatric services for children who are behind in school because of behavioral and emotional problems, has made important strides under Sheehy’s direction. A major one was taken in 2009 when a new GRCC classroom opened at Greenwood Elementary School. The classroom, staffed by GRCC personnel, has helped children with GRCC move forward by giving them a chance to be in a grade school environment, Mollerstom said.
The classroom, which houses GRCC’s Rising Stars program, is a credit to Sheehy’s leadership and persuasion. A number of people in the education community did not believe that such a program in a mainstream environment would be successful, making it harder for Sheehy to get it established. Sheehy’s personable nature served him well as he succeeded in getting the Rising Stars classroom established.
“He does a nice job of working to get what needs to happen without stepping on toes,” said Colleen McDonald, the GRCC’s interim clinical director.
Mollerstrom has worked with programs serving at-risk children for 35 years. He served on the GRCC board from 2004 to 2007. Mollerstom is excited about the chance to step in as interim executive director.
The GRCC serves eight children at its center and five at its Rising Stars site. Some of the children are prone to emotional outbursts and actions, students Sheehy often calmed with his compassionate, low key nature.
“He has a calming demeanor,” said Carol Byron, a special education teacher who works at GRCC.
Sheehy said that his years serving as director of the GRCC, which is a private, nonprofit corporation, have been rewarding but they have also been stressful.
“It has been tough to make a payroll every month for 12 years,” Sheehy said. “It has been trying at times, but it has also been fun and I have had a great staff.’’
Gloria Sheehy, the site supervisor for Rising Stars and a child family therapist who is Jim’s sister-in-law, said it is hard to imagine the GRCC without the man who has served as its executive director since 2001.
“He is GRCC. We are really going to miss him,” she said.