Life is fairly low-key these days for Sherri Nickelson. She retired from Rosewood Services nearly a month ago, after a 15-year career with the agency. Her efforts now focus on spending time with family, caring for her cats, quilting, and maintaining her home in Byers with her husband Terry.
Several weeks removed from the working world, the impact of her retirement hasn’t fully sunk in for Nickelson. She had been very involved with Rosewood, providing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Her career began as a direct care staff in October 2005, and eventually she became Day Services director, Greenhouse and Gardens manager, and Transportation supervisor. During her tenure, she often held dual roles. For the last four years, she served as Rosewood Gallery manager and she also became Rosewood’s quilting and crochet instructor during the past two years.
“It was so rewarding and fun to teach them,” explained Nickelson. “Our folks were always so kind and willing to help, whether they were working with furniture or sewing. They genuinely appreciate you taking the time to teach them something and they always do amazing work.”
Nickelson planned to retire at the end of June, but when Rosewood Gallery closed this spring and summer during the state’s mandatory shut-down due to the COVID pandemic, she opted to stay a while longer to help with transition. Kathy Thatcher was hired as Rosewood Gallery’s new manager in late August, and Nickelson stayed on a few weeks helping with training. But as area COVID cases began increasing, Rosewood Services Executive Director Tammy Hammond concurred with Nickelson that it was time for her to finally retire.
“Tammy called and told me she would feel better if I was home and safe right now because I do have respiratory issues,” said Nickelson. “She was always so understanding and caring to me. When I received her call, it felt good to finally be retired, but then it also made me feel sad because I was really leaving. The weight of that moment was big for me.”
Nickelson said she will always cherish her early memories of taking care of people with disabilities at two of Rosewood’s Day Services locations, the NextDoor and Outback Buildings. She also vividly remembers getting the Greenhouse and Gardens up and running a decade ago with the help of her Rosewood team. Most recently, Nickelson said she is extremely proud of the furniture crew at Rosewood Gallery.
“When I look back the past two years especially, we have been extremely busy, and the workers did so well,” she said. “They are doing wonderful work.”
Hammond recognized Nickelson’s impact for the past 15 years.
“Sherri has been a true benefit to people with disabilities because she has the heart of a teacher and possesses many talents and skills that she was able to share with them,” said Hammond. “For the past 15 years, she has helped make their world a world with purpose. She has been a tremendously dedicated employee. We will miss her greatly but look forward to seeing her back from time to time, after we move beyond the pandemic.”
Nickeslon said she plans to return to resume her quilting and crocheting classes next year.
“Once a week, I plan to come back to conduct classes,” she said. “I guess I just can’t stay away from our folks. I loved working for Rosewood; I absolutely loved it.”