In December, Advent Christian Village (ACV) held a bittersweet celebration at Good Samaritan Center (GSC), its skilled nursing community — the retirement of Shirley Lawson. Shirley Lawson has worked as a CNA for ACV for 31 and a half years. Her outstanding dependability is usually the first quality anyone mentions when speaking about Shirley.
Shirley began working at ACV’s J. Ralph Smith Health Center as a CNA in 1985, ministering to those needing 24-hour skilled nursing care, and was involved in the move when Good Samaritan Center opened in 1991. Over the years, she also worked in nutrition and hydration. In addition, she assisted Dr. McCoy, the Jacksonville podiatrist who comes to GSC on a regular basis.
“Shirley was a hard worker,” says Keri Hilliard, administrator of Good Samaritan Center. “She never slowed down. She knew the residents and their families.”
“She was patient and cheerful,” adds Judy Crager, GSC’s director of nursing. “She had a can-do, will-do attitude.”
According to Keri, Shirley wasn’t just a good nursing assistant because it was her job, “she believed in relationship.”
Because of that belief, and the love that she showed, “the residents really loved her,” says Judy. “She interacted wonderfully with them.”
Shirley says it wasn’t only her goal to take good care of the individuals under her care. “I loved making my people happy,” she says. “I loved making their day.”
“She really enhanced the quality of life” for each resident, says Penny West, GSC’s assistant director of nursing. “She was always in a good mood.”
Those who have been in the nursing profession know it’s sometimes hard to project a positive attitude when working in the healthcare industry. According to Judy, Shirley showed just as much love and cared just as much for the hard-to-love individuals as for the easy ones.
During the 31+ years she worked at Advent Christian Village, only once did Shirley call in unable to work a scheduled shift. It’s because of that dependability and her consistent loving care that ACV is so thankful for the years Shirley devoted to ACV’s skilled nursing residents.
A group of residents, co-workers, friends and administrators gathered on Dec. 14 to celebrate Shirley and to wish her well in retirement. One of the well-wishers who spoke at the celebration was past ACV President Jim Humbles. He spoke of the thousands of people Shirley has ministered to over her years at ACV and how their lives were better because of her service and dedication.
Current ACV President Craig Carter presented Shirley with a book clock. On the inside is a photograph of Shirley with one of her residents, and an engraving that reads, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Romans 12:11, 13, With appreciation for 31 years of service to God’s people at Advent Christian Village.”
Shirley is also dedicated to her family, choosing to retire so that she can be more available to take care of her mother. Shirley is married, has two grown children and three grandchildren, all of whom are dear to her heart.
Shirley is sorely missed at Good Samaritan Center, but she set an outstanding example for those who are coming along behind her. Congratulations, Shirley, on your retirement. You deserve it.