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Eligibility Worker

Public Social Services Agency
 
Background

Employment History

  • Children's Services

Education

  • bachelor's degree , history
    California Polytechnic State University , San Luis Obispo
Web References
Ventura County Star: County News
www.staronline.com [cached]
Richard Shaw, left, manager of the county's Adult Services program, which advocates for the elderly, feeds his father, Edwin Shaw, an inventor, engineer and pilot who has Alzheimer's disease, at Treacy Villa in Ventura.
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Richard Shaw stroked his father's hand, urging him to swallow a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.
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"He actually said my name tonight," Richard Shaw said recently in the dining room of a Ventura convalescent home where his father lives.
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After spending a day managing the county's Adult Services program, which advocates for the elderly, Shaw visits his dad.He has cared for his father ever since he careened into dementia about five years ago.Whether it's for 10 minutes or a half-hour, whether his father is awake or seemingly asleep, Shaw rarely misses some time with him at the end of a work day.
Moments like this particular evening , where his father can leave his bedroom and say his son's name , are rare, but Shaw drops by every night, hoping for a glimpse of the man he once knew.
"I don't know if he's alert or not alert, but showing up every day brings some consistency to his life," the 55-year-old Ventura resident said."I think he's getting something out of it."
Shaw makes the daily pilgrimage to honor his dad.
"He made sure I got through college," Shaw said a few weeks later in a phone interview."He helped me be the person I am.He was there to support me financially.Now it's important for me (to know) that if he has any cognitive awareness of someone being there, that he doesn't leave this place feeling all alone."
During a longer-than-usual visit at Treacy Villa in Ventura, Shaw helped his father eat ice cream, graham crackers and coffee while the evening news purred from a nearby television set.The elder Shaw sat in a wheelchair, head slumped over, eyes flickering open on occasion from the disease that robbed his once-fertile mind.
Between mouthfuls, the silver-haired Shaw talked up his father's accomplishments: an inventor with 85 patents who moved his family to Oxnard in 1960.
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When his health deteriorated, Richard moved him to Ventura County, soon becoming his conservator.
"When he came to live with us, he could hold a fairly normal conversation," Richard said, "but he would intersperse it with some odd comments."
Soon his father's health declined.One night, Shaw awoke to find his father in the kitchen, all the stove's burners going and coffee strewn over a dining table."That was just dangerous, and so we had to have him placed at that time," Shaw said.
Shaw has worked for the county's Human Services Agency for nearly 29 years.He applied for a job right after earning a bachelor's degree in history at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
"It seemed like a good area for me to go to," Shaw said of the Human Services Agency.
He started as an eligibility worker for the Public Social Services Agency (now the Human Services Agency) and then moved on to Adult Services.After two years, he moved to Children's Services, where he spent 22 years (including two years working in the same building that now houses Treacy Villa).About 21/2 years ago, he became manager of Adult Services.
Shaw earns $79,865, overseeing a $5.3 million budget and 40 employees.The program includes Adult Protective Services, which investigates charges of elder abuse, and In-Home Support Services, a caregiver program for seniors and disabled people.
Strong social conscience
He owes his convictions for helping others to his mother, a 1960s-era civil rights activist who instilled him with a strong social conscience.Shaw was born in Detroit and lived in Columbus, Ohio, and Upper Saddle River, N.J., the latter a largely white suburb of New York City.At age 11, the family moved to ethnically diverse Oxnard.The change was an eye-opener.
"I became aware that people had a different way of looking at the world than what I necessarily had," Shaw said recently in his small office in a county building on Telephone Road."My mom made it clear that that was kind of a good thing."
When Shaw was 18, his mother was killed by a drunk driver.The incident solidified Shaw's value system."Some of those things that were important to her became more important to me, too," said the father of three, who's been married 25 years.
If running a county program and caring for an ailing father doesn't seem like enough, Shaw also volunteers as a big brother to a foster youth (his second in a little more than a year), whom he takes surfing.He recently helped establish a program to improve support services for foster children after they leave the system.Shaw also cycles, rebuilds cars and crafts woodworking projects.Some day, he hopes to build a house from scratch.
In the 1970s, Shaw raced a BMW for the Sports Car Club of America."Not for very long," Shaw said, pointing to pictures of Formula One race cars on his office wall.
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"I just get exhausted thinking about all the things he's doing," said Richard Kelman, a senior attorney with the Department of Child Support Services, who's known Shaw since 1981.
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"He just seems to have an expansive ability to take on new projects and continue being Richard," said Kelman, a cycling buddy who met Shaw when both worked in the county's court system, overseeing juvenile cases.
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"He just seems to have an expansive ability to take on new projects and continue being Richard," said Kelman, a cycling buddy who met Shaw when both worked in the county's court system, overseeing juvenile cases.
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Obviously, it's important for Richard to do these things.He is a caretaker."
Shaw, a father of three grown children, never puts his agenda before his own family, although his wife of nearly 25 years also tires just thinking of everything her husband does.
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