Spotlight on Irene Shaw, Team Captain 2015 – 2021

Shaw's Team at Sago Palm

I have never been great with transitions. So when our fifth and last child went off to college and my husband said “I’d like to spend more time in Florida” … the rhythms of life created over many years suddenly shifted. What about my old friends, the boards I’ve been active with, the committees, the tennis team? Fast forward a few more years, and those “more days in Florida” expanded to “becoming a Florida resident”. Well, it actually all worked out brilliantly and I credit two decisions I made.

First, I engaged with our wonderful pro, Cindy Ferro, to work on my golf game and become a real golfer. Second, on a whim I went on a Foundation site visit with Hank Baer. I then went on another visit and … the rest is history. I loved the car rides to our site destinations, and discussion of the pros and cons of each agency’s request. The ride home was invariably filled with the overwhelming amazement at how a few passionate people running an agency could make such a difference in the lives of hundreds of people in need.

The step up to becoming a captain felt seamless. Jillian, our executive director, has created an efficient online format where with a touch of a key, one can see the history of each agency making a grant request. The captains meet every few weeks during the season to review the results of the site visits and vote on individual grant requests. I have formed strong bonds over the past years with my fellow captains. I so admire their passion and work ethic and will miss them, as well as my wonderful team. Last spring I worried about the loss of actual site visits but, truly, the pivot to virtual meetings worked well. Instead of the car rides, we met online for a pre-visit Zoom to discuss our initial reactions to the request and to plan questions we should ask.

Even years later, my team still reminisces about our favorite agencies: the two women who started Holy Ground PBC – an apartment complex in West Palm for pregnant teenagers and young mothers where the cycle of no education, no job, more babies, on welfare is effectively broken. The young ladies now have technical training, good jobs, some have college degrees and the babies have a future. Then there was the New Horizons Prison Pups Program, where the prisoners at Sago Palm Prison out by Lake Okeechobee live with golden retriever puppies for nine months, training them for work with the handicapped. Many of the prisoners found jobs in that field after their release. But truly, each and every site visit will forever hold a place in my heart.

I thank the Foundation for taking me beyond the gates and also for introducing me to so many Lost Tree friends I might never have known. I look forward to working on the Foundation Executive Committee spreading the Foundation’s message and mission to all our new Lost Tree residents. I guess in the end this is my case history – transitions are not such a bad thing.