BY CHRISTINE STEWART (SHE/HER)

Gail Shaw was born the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister and her mom was a proud Minister’s wife. Gail grew up moving around the Midwest (five times) before her father accepted the position of pastor at the First United Presbyterian Church in Collinsville in 1974.

He and his secretary at the time founded the current Collinsville Food Pantry due to the number of people calling the church looking for food resources. Her family has left quite a legacy in our community!

Gail began working at Planned Parenthood in 1979, with a focus primarily on birth control and STD prevention. Gail worked alongside the nurses at the site and gained extensive knowledge of mental health issues from a medical perspective.

From there, Gail moved to Case Management in Alton at Senior Alternatives at Riverbend. She worked closely with Seniors to ensure needs were met and appropriate services were provided. It was through this organization that she became connected to our own Stacey Rhodes, who later joined SJCC as well.
Gail took her expertise to a nursing home and was training to take over as the Nursing Home Administrator. After a couple of years with a focus primarily on paperwork and documentation, she decided it really wasn’t what she was passionate about and chose to look elsewhere to fully utilize her best skill set.

At this time, she was hired by St. John’s Community Care as a
Supervisor for the Home Services program, and she also enrolled in
college to obtain her Master’s in Public Administration! Working
full time and going to school in the evenings, Gail managed to complete this degree in two years. She also obtained certification through the Illinois Department on Aging as a Dementia Specialist. When the decision was made to close the Home Services program in 2018, Gail took the initiative to write up a new job description for SJCC, which was subsequently offered to her and is the role she now carries as Dementia Care Specialist Coordinator Training and Support.

In Gail’s spare time, she has fostered and babysat dogs. These days, she’s a cat mom, and all of her long-term pets have been “fostering fails,” meaning that she decided to just keep and took great joy in nurturing her strays back
to life. Gail reads a lot and enjoys researching a variety of topics at great length and is an expert in genealogy. She volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association and has lead the same group of women in Bible Study for 19 years! Gail brings such genuine compassion to her interactions with everyone at St. John’s, as well as her wealth of knowledge on everything from local resources to some medical background on dementia-related issues. We are honored to recognize her 20-year anniversary with St. John’s Community Care! We are extremely grateful to have her on the SJCC team, where she has the opportunity to bless so many people who access our services.