Northsider Mary Louise Shaw recently received the Marsha Meeks Kelly Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service.
The award is part of the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Award.
A longtime friend described Mary Louise Shaw as “a single lady who has built a life of service, spending all of her time and energy making the world a better place for the people around her ... across years, across our state, and across continents.”
Now 79, the Northsider spent decades serving others as a beloved middle school teacher, counselor, and devoted volunteer responding to the needs of people in Mississippi and beyond.
One of her many contributions has been to the Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capitol Area. Since 1992, she has played an integral role in the building of more than 500 Habitat houses, touching the lives of 2,500 people in the capital area. As a lead volunteer, she has worked alongside more than 20,000 volunteers, many of whom had never picked up a hammer. In this role, she welcomed, taught, and inspired volunteers and future homeowners.
Deeply respected and admired by volunteers, homeowners, and staff, Shaw serves as a lifetime member of Habitat’s advisory board and is an inaugural recipient of the Elise Winter Founders Award - the highest award bestowed by Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.
As a longtime deacon and elder at Covenant Presbyterian, she is the first one at the door offering help when a member is sick, parents have a new baby, or there has been a death in a family She organized salvage and cleanup teams from the congregation to help devastated homeowners following Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Yazoo City tornado. She also regularly performs with the church hand bell choir at nursing homes and local hospitals.
Over the years, Shaw also volunteered delivering meals to senior citizens through Meals on Wheels,; helped collect and repackage food from restaurants and grocers through Gleaners, served as a JPS Book Buddy with Casey Elementary, and fulfilled children’s Christmas wish lists with the Salvation Army.
Shaw has traveled to Kenya seven times over two decades with teams from Covenant Presbyterian to build churches and schools for orphanages.
Friends of Shaw say that “she treats people with dignity and respect ... extending help in the most gracious and compassionate way.
We thank Mary Louise Shaw for sharing her considerable skills, abundant energy, and loving spirit with the world.
(Reprinted from the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service program.)