Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 6, 2013

Joanne Dunfee: profile of a volunteer

By Leeann Akers - Editor

Feb. 6, 2013 — Joanne Dunfee doesn't do anything noteworthy...if you ask her.

But ask anyone else, however, and you will find that Joanne is a dog rescue advocate, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a teacher, a grant writer, the deputy director of emergency management for the City of Grayson, paperwork guru, organizer of everyone, and garbage emptier.

Joanne sat down with the Journal-Times last week to discuss her activities while she juggled several other tasks.

She is originally from West Virginia and met her husband, Rodger, who hails from Indiana, while they both were students at Marshall University.

With a master’s degree in special education, Joanne has spent 43 years in the classroom. She teaches at West Carter High School and says each student is like her own.

“Special education has fewer kids in the classroom,” Joanne said. “We get the opportunity to get much closer to each one. I have always wanted to help others, so this is very rewarding for me.”

Joanne said watching her students grow, learn, and succeed is her greatest reward.

In her work in emergency management, fire fighting, and as an EMT, Joanne found another “true calling” in paperwork.

“I have always wanted to be out there doing,” Joanne laughed. “But I discovered that I am really good at paperwork.”

Grayson is among a handful of Kentucky cities with its own emergency management group, in addition to the county’s operation. Joanne works under her husband, who is director of the EM program.

After training as a firefighter, Joanne decided she also wanted to train as an EMT. A first responder’s class inspired her to go back to school and earn her certification.

“I don't do structure fires,” Joanne said as she showed her firefighting equipment. “I can do overhaul work and clean up but mostly I do a lot of the paperwork on scene.”

A naturally humble person, Joanne is confident in her ability to make sure the paperwork gets done.

“Sometimes you ask the right question and find out there are more people in a burning building,” Joanne said. “It's all about asking the right questions and meeting deadlines.”

She wrote four grant proposals for the Grayson Dive Team and three of them were funded in the total amount of $35,000.

Although she gets satisfaction from perfectly dotted i's and crossed t's, her true passion is animal rescue.

“It started with puppy mill investigation,” she said while showing photos of her own pets at home. “I don't have brothers or sisters but my companion growing up was a dog.”

That companionship naturally led into rescue and animal transport. With a servant's heart, Joanne said it's just her reality.

“Roger and I have always volunteered – if it was disaster relief or visiting nursing homes,” she said. “It is our passion to volunteer and give of ourselves. It's just our lifestyle.”

Leeann Akers can be reached at or by phone at 474-5101.