BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Local physician, Dr. Jeffries Blackerby, is hanging up his white coat after volunteering at the Child Advocacy Center in Bowling Green since 2001.
"Dr. Blackerby has been helping us here at the Child Advocacy Center for over 16 years," says Jennifer Bryant, the center's director.
"It's been rewarding to me just to be able to do that," says Dr. Blackerby.
The Advocacy Center has a tough job, helping children who have suffered from abuse.
"We offer a child friendly, safe space, for professionals to come together to talk to the child so the child doesn't have to re-experience trauma over and over by going to the police station and perhaps social services and the doctor's office," explains Bryant.
Dr. Jeffries Blackerby has served as one of the key volunteers for the Barren River Area by providing medical exams to children.
"I had no idea until I started volunteering here that there was such a need," he says.
"We serve the 10 county region -- what we call the Barren River Region -- so within those 10 counties, we do stay, unfortunately, pretty busy," says Bryant. "All sexual abuse cases are referred to the center, and some physical abuse cases as well."
The Child Advocacy Center says last year alone it saw more than 600 cases.
When putting numbers with just the children Dr. Blackerby has helped, he says he's seen "Between 350 and 400 cases per year."
For many years he was also balancing his own practice.
"He was willing to make himself available, sometimes at hours notice, available to the center to come in and make the children feel comfortable and do that medical exam," Bryant adds.
Former employees from his practice still keep in touch.
"I always think of him as a true Southern gentleman," says Judy Dilamarter, who says she worked with Dr. Blackerby for 39 years.
"I appreciate his integrity and his honesty and the time that he was willing to spend with those difficult cases," she says.
Smiling, Dilamarter adds, "I found him to be a super boss and a good friend."
From volunteering his time at the center for so many years, Dr. Blackerby says he's gotten a lot out of it -- both good and bad.
"A lot of emotional distress certainly, hearing the stories that I hear. But, realizing that these children are being helped," he says.
"If you left it up to him, he would never tell you about these things because he just sees it as something that needs to be done and he should be a part of helping to do that," adds Dilamarter.
For volunteering 16 years at the Child Advocacy Center as one of the key medical examiners, and taking the time to be there help hundreds of children each year, we honor Dr. Jefferies Blackerby as this week's Hughes and Coleman Hometown Hero.
Bryant says she's working with board members to search for other volunteers to help with medical exams now that Dr. Blackerby is stepping back. The center already has other doctors, but with the number of cases it's seeing, the search continues for additional physicians to be available when a child comes to the center in need.
Bryant says there are big shoes to fill with Dr. Blackerby retiring and she's thankful to have someone who has been so dedicated to help out for so many years.