Gail Salowey has been a private support coordinator for more than 30 years, advocating for families with disabled sons or daughters in terms of education and medical and mental health. This year, she was recognized by the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities with the Ila Marie Goodey Award for her services.

"I was selected for the award by all the families I've served as well as people in the state because of my exemplary service for them and to them and what I do," Salowey said. "I help give families a bigger and broader perspective and help them fulfill the hopes and dreams they have for their disabled sons and daughters."

Eight years ago, Salowey started GS Support Services after working as a private support coordinator at the state level. Prior to her work as a private support coordinator, she received a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York Purchase and a master's degree in special education from the University of Utah. She then became a preschool teacher and preschool owner as well as director of a preschool for developmentally disabled preschoolers before working for the Department of Services for People with Disabilities.

Salowey said she was part of the big push in 1987 to 1988 to deinstitutionalize people in the Utah State Developmental Center in Provo. As part of her job with the state, she went to the Center and decided who got deinstitutionalized, and one of the people she helped release was Jack Sutton, namesake of the Jack Sutton Field at City Park.


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Now Salowey owns GS Support Services, carrying over many of her clients with her. She said several of them have been with her for 30 years, and she advocates for them in all capacities. She does so by meeting face-to-face with clients, announced or unannounced, and talking to teachers if they're in school or parents if they're still living at home.

"If they're having emotional problems, I help link them with mental health counselors. If they're behaving erratically, I help families coordinate with physicians to get the services they need," Salowey said. "I'm always trying to find them opportunities to enrich their lives."

That includes referring families to programs for their disabled children, such as the National Ability Center or Camp Kostopulos in Salt Lake City. Salowey said her reputation and credibility with the state office enables her to link families with services and funding other workers might have a more difficult time procuring.

She is ardent about the services she provides, saying that her job never ends. It is not a job but rather a passion, and she said she is grateful to be able to provide parents with opportunities for their disabled children.

"My job is to monitor their health and safety and to ensure they're receiving the services they need in order to maintain their health and safety in the community," she said. "Every day, I know I am making a difference in people's lives, and not a day goes by without someone thanking me for my efforts and helping them to improve their lives."