• Spotlight Member of the Month: Shirley McElhatton

    October 26, 2017
    Shirley is one of two sales and marketing directors at Alma Via of San Rafael, an Elder Care Alliance company. The community includes 115 assisted living private apartments and 22 memory care private rooms. “I’ve been in the senior care industry since 1989,” says Shirley. “I’ve helped in placement, home care and community sales and marketing. I really like Alma Via and hope to work here until I retire.” 

    Are you involved with a Chamber committee?
    I joined the Ambassadors. I’ve been an Ambassador for chambers in San Leandro, Pleasanton, Pleasant Hill and Lafayette. I enjoy it and know the benefit of networking with all types of businesses.

    Has your family always lived in this area?
    I’m a native Californian, born in Alhambra and grew up in Santa Cruz. My sons are 18 and 29. My older son is a painter and just went to paint my mom’s house in Wisconsin. The younger one is an intern at Peterson Caterpillar in San Leandro, and wants to be a diesel mechanic.

    What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?
    The power of the smile and positive thinking.

    Who’s your biggest inspiration?
    My stepfather, who is no longer with us. He taught me how to talk my way into every job I ever had, giving me the confidence and power to ask for what I want. He was amazing. He was a top-producing escrow officer in Berkeley. I introduced him to my mother and two weeks later they said they were getting married.

    Are you a risk taker?
    Now, at my age, I’m more cautious but I have been a big risk taker. Hot air ballooning, skiing, hiking. I like to be outdoors and I love to dance. I’m looking for a man who dances to be my next boyfriend. I love ballroom, especially Latin styles.

    Is there a song you can’t get out of your head?
    Happy by Pharrell Williams. It’s contagious. I was in a room with 3,000 other Juice Plus distributors and we were all dancing to it. 

    Do you have a favorite music?
    Smooth jazz. It keeps me peaceful. Have a good friend who plays harp and electric violin so I can put his music on when I need something calming.

    What was your first job?
    McDonald’s. My mother told me to get a job and dropped me off there. I walked out with a uniform. It was the first place I applied.

    What is your greatest fear or challenge?
    Setting up my financial future is my fear. I’m working with professionals now to get long term care insurance. 

    Favorite movie?
    It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s an oldie, but I like heartwarming, meaningful movies.

    Do you have a hidden talent?
    I have artistic ability that I’ll enhance once I retire. I did an oil painting that the principal of my high school bought for his office. And I did a drawing of the Felton library and won 2nd place in a Santa Cruz Art Association contest.

    What do most people not know about you?
    That I have a core value of helping people. I’m always willing to help. Last night a homeless person came up to me after I had dinner at a restaurant and I handed him my leftovers. He was thin and hungry and was thrilled to get it.

    Favorite charity or cause?
    I’m a backup Meals on Wheels driver on my days off. And I’m a volunteer Threshhold singer. Through ThresholdChoir.org., I got connected to the group and practiced three times a month with other choir members. After a year of training and learning the songs, we’re allowed to sing by the beside of people in hospice. We sing soft, loving lullabies by the bedside. It really is special and I want to do if for the rest of my life. 

    If you could choose anyone, who would you have lunch with?
    Sting. I love his music and he could teach me a lot. 

    Emily Maloney, Marketing and Program Manager
    (415) 454-4163