Horizons saying goodbye to ‘anchor’
If you go …
What: Retirement party for longtime Horizons Specialized Services employee Judy Shelton
When: 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.
— Family, clients, colleagues and friends are welcome to help Shelton celebrate her 35 years of service to the agency and upcoming retirement.
A long and celebrated career is coming to a close for one of Horizons Specialized Services most beloved and respected employees.
Judy Shelton is a lifelong Coloradan. She was born in Salida, raised in Pueblo and has been a Northwest Colorado resident for more than 35 years.
She and her husband, Pete, first met in her hometown, and they moved to Grand Junction in 1974.
The couple later migrated east to Meeker before settling in Maybell.
It was in Meeker that Shelton first became involved with Horizons as a volunteer. She was formally employed by the organization Jan. 17, 1977.
A celebration of Shelton’s career is scheduled to take place exactly 35 years later, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.
“None of us have ever known Horizons without Judy,” said Susan Mizen, Horizons executive director. “It kind of feels like a changing of the guard because Judy has been an anchor for three-and-a-half decades and a steady influence on the agency.”
Mizen calls Shelton the “Horizons historian” because she has weathered the storms and witnessed the organization’s growth almost since its’ inception in 1975.
Shelton is also knowledgeable of almost every facet of the organization, having “worn many hats” in her roles as a children’s services coordinator, family support coordinator and a supported living services counselor during the course of her tenure, Mizen said.
The only area Shelton has not participated in is Horizons’ in-home direct care program.
As a supported living services counselor, Shelton helped adult clients maintain their independence by teaching them how to lead healthy lives.
She was a resource to parents as a children’s services coordinator by guiding families to the appropriate programs so special care children could get services they need.
Lastly, Shelton provided financial guidance to families struggling to stay on top of costly medical expenses by helping them access funds as a family support coordinator.
“One of the benefits of working at Horizons is I never had the opportunity to get bored,” Shelton said. “It’s really been a great job and I’m going to miss it because it has been such a big part of my life for 35 years.”
The moment and decision to move on are bittersweet, Shelton said.
On one hand, she is happy to be able to reflect on a successful career and is proud of her service at Horizons.
However, Shelton concedes there is some apprehension of the unknown chapter to come. To occupy her mind and time, her and Pete are planning to spend the first two months of her retirement traveling.
She’s excited to lay eyes on the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.
But, Shelton knows at some point she is going to have to return home to Moffat County. She said she worries she’ll miss going to work every day.
She plans to fill that void with family.
“It’s been a great job and I truly enjoy it,” Shelton said. “It was a tough decision to retire, but I am 70 years old after all, and it’s time to spend time with my family, with my grandchildren.
“When you get to be my age you begin to look at the people you have around you. My grandchildren are growing up so fast. They’re reaching that age where they don’t want to spend as much of their time with the family, so I better grab them while I still can.”
Mizen believes that is not only appropriate, but more than deserved.
“Judy has been a wonderful and consistent person for us,” Mizen said. “I’m thrilled she had the dedication to stay with it for 35 years.”