PROSSER — City Clerks are formed by experience and fire. They are created from a framework of Revised Codes of Washington (RCW) State, then take on a human form. The individual donning this form and framework must operate at the highest levels of exactness, diplomacy, transparency, speed, multi-tasking ability and ethics.
All of it right, all the time.
That’s why Rachel Shaw, City of Prosser’s Clerk, excels at her work. As an adult child of trauma, the oldest daughter of dysfunctional parents, raised herself in an environment laden with drugs, severe neglect, parental challenges, can do the city’s demanding work. She has overcome.
Shaw, a mother of three teen sons, a bride of 18 years to Keith Shaw, who also serves as the co-chair of the Prosser THRIVE Coalition, spent her entire childhood on daily alert responding to her parent’s ongoing trauma.
The trauma took different forms. Trauma was created from moving back and forth between parents who divorced badly, each parent taking their own baggage. Living with mom, Shaw was exposed to stepfather physical abuse and mother’s challenges with her health.
Her dad, Bill Bennett, for years was a successful real estate investor; he eventually lost everything to his long-term drug, turned meth habit. Before Bennett’s rehabilitation, he lived on Tacoma, Wash., streets — at the end of it, picking up change in parking lots and cleaning up in casino bathrooms. Shaw lost touch with him for years.
Professionals in the child trauma treatment area say Shaw’s experience is, “a heightened stress response.”
When asked how she sidestepped this deep dysfunctional upbringing, Shaw answered quickly, “Jesus.”
She was also quick to explain she was not saved in a hallelujah moment beneath a summer tent with hands laid on. She had an aunt who was a believer, she and her mother, were baptized together when Shaw was 9. Later, Shaw was softly exposed to Christianity at her best friend, Trinity’s home.
Shaw moved multiple more times back and forth between parents, before her 1997 graduation. Following high school, Shaw moved to Prosser with her mom, after a short stint in California where she was raped during a home invasion.
Family friend, Debbie Sykes, provided her a sandwich making job, from this she met her future husband. A stretch at YVC in Grandview gave Shaw nearly enough AA credentials in Psychology. Shaw’s in-law family became her foundation. She began her City of Prosser tenure in 2006. Her faith grew, her father, whom she shares an abiding connection, recovered from his addictions and homelessness. She attributes her path and good life, her father’s near-miraculous recovery to her faith. “I have so much victory and celebration,” said Shaw.