"I care for the eldery," Shirley McDaniel says but she's careful to add, "Of which I'm not. I'm 80." And after 35 years of working to insure elderly residents of Cottage Grove could stay in their homes, McDaniel's is ready to call it quits.
She's been working in the field for over three decades, first with Evelyn Hart who began efforts to establish a caretakers program in the city in 1987.
"She had a passion to elderly in their home so she sarted a program that included nurses, hospice and Operation Independece which was the caregiveres who went into the homes and cared for the elderly. At one time had over 50 employees and 100 clients," McDaniel said.
When Magnolia opened, the pair lost a share of their clients but with the buyout of Cottage Grove Hospital to PeaceHealth, they had a new home. Operation Independence functioned under PeaceHealth until 2005.
"Then, I went independent," McDaniel said. "Word got around that I was doing caregiving and people coming into town looking for work or caregivers who lived here would call me and I would coordinate work for them and myself."
Then, three years ago, McDaniel joined forces with another Cottage Grove resident to start caregiver meetings on the first Monday of every month. There, caregivers can share information and received it from guest speakers.
"I have a passion for caregiving," McDaniel said. A passion she thinks may have its roots in caring for her own grandmother and later, her aunts.
And while she'll miss her clients and the people she works with, McDaniel isn't slowing down.
"I have met a wonderful man and I'm getting married July 8," she said.
The pair plan to travel, where exactly they don't know yet but according to McDaniel a cruise may be involved.
"It's just going to be a lot of traveling. I had a couple of clients and whenever I started dating my future husband, we started planning our wedding so that took care of what I'm going to do the rest of my life."
When they return home, McDaniels says she'll enjoy her time with her new husband and become more involved with her church located here in Cottage Grove.
I'm going to miss the people, going into the homes and getting to know the people that I have many many memories of," she said.