BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
The Shaw family members are always there for each other, and they feel that’s one reason they have such a blessed life. The family includes Sherri and her husband, Phillip Jr., and sons Ryan, 22, and Jovon, 20. Their oldest son, Phillip III, and his wife, Yolanda, have two children, Phillip IV, 7, and Yariah, 2.
Phillip Jr. said, “My mother always said that we have a guardian angel watching over us, and I believe it. We have been blessed with a good life here in Danville.”
When Phillip IV was born, his mother and father were young, and they both worked full-time. So the other family members joined together to help care for the infant.
“I hadn’t had a baby in the house for 13 years at that time,” Sherri said, “and I just loved it.”
“We were proud that Yolanda and Phillip III shouldered their responsibility,” the elder Phillip said. Yolanda went on to finish beauty school and now works at the Hair Cuttery, and Phillip III is a correctional officer at the Danville Public Safety Building.
The entire family is involved in both grandchildren’s lives. Phillip Jr. and Sherri recently drove to Louisville, Ky., just to buy Phillip IV his annual Easter suit — including coat, pants, hat and shoes.
“It’s a lot easier to find our granddaughter’s Easter outfit closer to home,” Sherry said. “There’s a much bigger selection out there for little girls.”
Phillip Jr. works at Renewable Energy Group — a job that he felt fortunate to land only a month after losing his job of 30 years when the Vermilion Power Station closed in April 2011.
“I want to give special thanks to Bruce Lutes, who had confidence in me and hired me,” Phillip Jr. said. “I went from making electricity to making biodiesel fuel, with on-the-job training.
“It was difficult even for a month to know that I was unemployed,” he added, “but my wife and family were totally supportive of me. And now I know how my father felt when the GM (General Motors) plant closed and he lost his job of 35 years.”
The entire family is now rallying around Ryan, who is newly unemployed after being laid off from FreightCar. Ryan is sending out resumes and contacting employment agencies.
“I’m willing to do any kind of job,” he said. “I’m not picky.”
Sherri feels fortunate to have had the same employer for 27 years — Presence United Samaritans Medical Center. When she started there, working on the Dietary Department tray line, it was called Lakeview Medical Center.
She now works in the diet office planning patients’ menus.
“I’ve worked for 15 different bosses since I started my job at the hospital,” Sherri said. “I’m pretty flexible, and it’s good that I don’t mind change.”
School and hobbies
All three of the Shaw boys excelled in high school sports, and Jovon always was a standout in track events.
He now is a sophomore at Eastern Illinois University, where he majors in kinesiology and sports studies, and plans to be an athletic trainer. He spent his freshman year on a track scholarship at Central College in Pella, Iowa, before transferring to Eastern.
“This year I’m concentrating on my academics, and next year I plan to try out for the track and basketball teams,” Jovon said.
Sherri and Phillip Jr. were able to attend one of their son’s college track meets last year.
“It worked out well, since he won that meet,” Sherri said.
The family owns a jet ski, and everybody but Sherri loves to go skiing and tubing on Lake Vermilion.
“I never liked the water and I can’t swim,” she said.
“I’m probably the only person alive who was able to ride along on a jet ski and manage not to get wet,” she added, laughing.
Phillip Jr. does most of the cooking in the family, with his favorite dish being salmon patties. “And I can also bake a mean cherry and apple pie,” he added. He also enjoys taking photographs of anything and everything.
Sherri would rather work out at the Danville YMCA or attend a prayer service at her church when she has some free time.
The entire family is active in New Life Christian Church, except for Jovon. He attends College Street Church of Christ when he comes home from school in Charleston. Sherri said, “We really appreciate the monetary support that Pastor Curtis Hunter from that church has given Jovon ever since he was a little kid.”
The Shaw household never misses a holiday. They hang an “all holiday” wreath and banner out front that they change up for the different seasons.
The family also is into decorating the interior of their home. Their living room features a distinctive “zebra” theme, with black and white stripes dominating just about everything in sight.
“Zebras have always been my favorite zoo animal,” Sherri said.
There are also tons of framed family pictures, as well as some of the boys’ sports trophies displayed in the seating area.
Before he had a son, it was Phillip III’s ambition to become a professional boxer. When Phillip IV came along, he decided it was more important to be there for him. Today, the 7-year-old is involved in basketball, baseball and speed skating. “But my son said he never wants our grandson to box because he’s afraid he might get hurt,” Phillip Jr. said.
The Shaws’ dream is to retire to Florida, where it’s warm year-round. “We all like the climate there, so our oldest son and his family will probably come with us,” Sherri said.
Even though Sherri and Phillip Jr. jokingly said they still feel too young to be grandparents, their children and grandchildren will always come first in their lives.
“Our family is and will always be most important to us,” Sherri said.