Monday, April 19, 2010

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Attorney General Greg Abbott Recognizes Paris Women for Volunteer Service

PARIS – In recognition of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today thanked Francis Perkis and Wilma Rhea for generously volunteering at the attorney general’s Paris child support office. Perkis, 77, has assisted the Paris office since 1992. Rhea, 86, has been on board since 2006.

“Francis Perkis and Wilma Rhea play a vital role by helping the Paris child support office collect financial and medical support that gives Texas children the promise of a bright future,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Office of the Attorney General appreciates its dedicated volunteers who contribute their time and skills to ensuring young Texans have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong.”

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Francis Perkis and Wilma Rhea
Francis Perkis and Wilma Rhea

Thanks to dedicated volunteers like Francis Perkis and Wilma Rhea – and 725 others like them across the state, the Attorney General’s Office – and therefore Texas taxpayers – saved an estimated $1.67 million last year.

Both Perkis and Rhea come to the Paris office one day a week to help mail legal notices to parents who receive or pay child support. Their efforts help the Paris office operate more efficiently.

“The work they accomplish saves valuable time for our legal technicians,” said Program Supervisor Sheila Clayton. “They are a joy to have in our office, and I am very appreciative that they have chosen to volunteer for this agency.”

Both Perkis and Rhea are active volunteers in their community. Perkis, who has volunteered for a number of local organizations, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2005, and was named the Red River Valley Retired and Senior Volunteer Program’s (RSVP) Volunteer of the Year in 1989. In addition to the Office of the Attorney General, Perkis currently volunteers for the PrimeTime Senior Activity Center.

Perkis is committed to serving the Paris child support office and credits volunteering with helping her stay healthy and active.

“Helping out the children of Texas through the Child Support Division has changed my life in a positive manner,” said Perkis. “I feel really good about being able to help the children of Texas.”

Rhea received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2008 for her work with the Office of the Attorney General, Meals on Wheels and the Pshigoda Senior Citizens Center. She also served on the AARP Board of Directors and is a member of RSVP.

“Volunteering gets me out of the house and gives me the opportunity to meet nice people,” said Rhea, whose work with the Office of the Attorney General began as a temporary assignment during another volunteer’s illness.

“I do not know what we would do without them,” said Kaye Crowell, administrative assistant for the Paris child support office. “We love their company and need them in our office.”

The attorney general’s Paris office handles more than 16,000 cases for Lamar and eight surrounding counties. Services include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments.

Statewide, child support collected by the Office of the Attorney General exceeded $2.78 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2009. The attorney general’s Paris child support office collected $36 million of that amount.