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Jo Buckles retires from Ayers Health and Rehab, Shelby Jackson new Administrator

This week there is a very important changing of the guards taking place in Gilchrist County. After 39 years at the helm, Joanna Buckles is handing over the ships wheel at Ayers Health & Rehabilitation Center to Shelby Jackson who is now the new administrator.
Through the years Joanna has become near and dear to many Gilchrist County and Tri-County Area families as she has assisted in the care of their loved ones with much kindness.
Joanna, or Jo as she is fondly known by locals, started at Ayers when she was just 22 years old. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. Jo referred to her early years as back when she was a beach bum.
Jo and her husband, Steve, don’t plan to leave the county now that she has retired. Jo said she and Steve plan to stay on in their home they have affectionately named “The Edge of Heaven.”
Last week Jo shared that the best part of her job was becoming friends with the residents and learning the meaning of the phrase “Life is Love”! Jo said, “It always touched my heart to see our employees show kindness and love to our residents as though they were family.”
The scariest and toughest part of her position has taken place after the COVID outbreak of 2020. Jo said, “Being responsible for the safety of so many with ever changing rules was very difficult. Ayers has always been about families, and the separation of not being with their loved ones was so hard to enforce and understand.”
When reflecting on her long career at Ayers Jo stated that she had a beautiful life taking care of the residents of this area. Jo said, “As a Team, with our employees, taking care of the elders with respect and dignity is something I will always be proud of.”
Jo went on to say that she would like to thank the people of this area for supporting her during her almost 40 year career at Ayers.
She also said that she will return to Ayers as a volunteer sometime in the future.
Jo has complete faith in the new Administrator, Shelby Jackson.
Shelby grew up in Powder Springs, Georgia, a small town west of Atlanta. She attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama as a scholarship athlete and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.
Shelby is very familiar with Gilchrist County and Ayers Health & Rehabilitation Center. She began her career with Health Services Management in June 2016, serving as an Administrator in Training (AIT) at Ayers Health and Rehabilitation Center until July 2017. During that time she was trained by longtime administrator Joanna Buckles. Shelby said, “Jo Buckles is a very special woman, you don’t find many like her. She is an inspiration to many, a mentor and a woman I have looked up to for a long time.” Shelby went on to say, that Buckles has spent much of her life building an incredible, loving and welcoming atmosphere at Ayers you can feel when you walk through the door. Shelby said, “I am beyond honored to help continue her legacy as she enters into retirement.”
Shelby was previously the Administrator for the sister facility, Heather Hill Healthcare Center, in New Port Richey beginning in 2017.
Shelby has always had a heart for service with a focus on community. While at Ayers, she developed a deep compassion for her community members with memory difficulties. Shelby is committed to enhancing the quality of life and meeting people’s changing needs through all seasons of life. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to rejoin the team at Ayers. Shelby helped build a family atmosphere and culture of compassion for their resident community at her previous facility. She plans to continue Ayers’ reputation of excellence in resident care and a loving and welcoming atmosphere.
Shelby currently resides in Newberry with her husband of two years, Brian Jackson.
When Shelby was asked about the most influential person in her life she stated, “I can say with all honesty that Mrs. Joanna Buckles has been the most influential person in my life. She has been the mentor and confidant I never knew I needed. Her bravery, honesty, trustworthiness, and strong ethical and moral values are characteristics I have looked up too since the beginning of my training with her in 2016.” She continued to praise Jo, saying she puts her whole heart and soul into caring for everyone she comes in contact with. Shelby said, “We should all try to be a bit more like Jo.”
When speaking about her future at Ayers’ and how she came to be in her new position as Administrator, Shelby said, “I am excited to become more familiar with Trenton, Bell and surrounding communities. Lastly and most importantly, God is good all the time! Following His guidance will always get you where you’re intended to be.”