Small Town News


Former senior center director following her dream

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Seven years ago, Terri Shaw dreamed she should pursue the job of executive director of the Mason County Senior Activities Association (MCSAA) and Center. She landed the post, and was at the helm as the organization made the move from downtown Shelton to bigger digs at The Pavilion at Sentry Park.

A couple months ago, Shaw had a dream that it was time to move on. She wrote her letter of resignation the next day.

Dreams have never let her down, said Shaw, whose last day on the job was last Friday. She calls her move to the Dallas area to be near family a "reboot."

"If you don't change, you die," she said.

Karla Knudsen-Johnston will serve as interim director for the next couple months as the group's board seeks a full-time replacement. Knudsen-Johnston taught elementary school for 33 years, including stints at all three elementaries in the Shelton School District: Bordeaux, Mountain View and Evergreen.

Knudsen-Johnston got involved with the group helping to run the karaoke machine at the monthly karaoke/bingo parties. She has been serving as the group's treasurer.

Shaw recalls that when she was hired seven years ago, board members and clients were torn about the direction of the center. Shaw said she served as a "harmonizer" who let people know the organization would keep the best of its programs and practices while adding options.

"If you go too far ahead of the group, you leave people behind," she said.

One thing was certain at the group's 6,000-square-foot building: "It was clear we'd outgrown the facility," Shaw said.

Pursuing a new building meant financial changes, Shaw said.

"In the old days, we could rely on the profits from the Nifty Thrifty (thrift store) and we needed to step beyond that.... We needed to operate more like what a business would," she said.

Shaw led the drive to purchase the 16,000-square-foot Pavilion southwest of downtown in February 2013. Last year, Shaw and former MCSAA Board President John Wyatt wrote the Washington State Capital Fund grant that awarded $400,000 to the group for renovations to the Pavilion.

Along with the new digs came expanded program offerings. With the new facility, there's room for 30 people in a Tai Chi class. Safety seminars draw big crowds.

"The new seniors are very interested in fitness and health," Shaw said.

Shaw said she'll miss the volunteers and clients, and "the ability to take an idea and manifest it into programs and special events."

Shaw said she hopes more seniors discover the offerings at the Pavilion.

"This is a great success story in our community, something we should be proud about," she said.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 21, 2016

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