Alyson Shaw has shown dedication to her community through her hours of volunteer work, but she was surprised to receive two honors recently from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Alyson received a Certificate of Excellence, which signifies her as one of the top 10 percent of all those who applied from the state in this year’s program, and the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have put in many hours of volunteer work to help their communities and country.
Alyson volunteers for many area organizations as part of her National Honor Society community service time, however her main priority is her commitment to Community Cafe, where she serves as the executive director.
“I volunteer once a week at the Community Cafe,” Alyson said. “But because I am executive director, I do a lot of additional tasks outside of that, such as shopping and managing the calendar and serving groups.”
Alyson found that service work is her passion and her mother, Susan Shaw, an administrative assistant as S-C, is very proud of her daughter’s work.
“She does a lot,” Susan Shaw said. “She took the initiative and really learned the value of what it means to give to others.”
Susan said Alyson started working at the cafe when she was in eighth grade and has loved it ever since.
“She schedules groups and realized the cafe wasn’t getting any tax money, so she found the Tax ID and took it upon herself to get all the paperwork and file for IRS (tax exemption),” Susan said. “She’s currently working with the OATS bus to get transportation available for the cafe people and she also just received $1,000 with a grant from Walmart.”
Susan said Alyson has a lot on her plate with school work and volunteer work and sometimes she doesn’t see her daughter throughout the day because of how busy she is.
Alyson has a lot of support not only from her family, but also at school. Lorin Blackburn-Thierfelder, English teacher and NHS sponsor, appreciates how hard Alyson works.
“Aly is an incredible student and leader and I am beyond proud of her accomplishments,” Blackburn-Thierfelder said. “She has helped the cafe receive funds that will help us prosper in the future.”
S-C Principal Wade Norton also praised Alyson’s dedication.
“Prudential recipients represent S-C’s commitment to volunteer work and helping the community, and also show how selfless the students are,” Norton said. He added that Kristin Allcorn, the founder of Community Cafe, received the highest award from the Prudential Spirit Awards for putting her community first.
Alyson said, “Since Sedalia is a generally poor community, it ensures that those less fortunate have a place to turn in their time of need.” She said there are many other students within S-C devoted to giving back.
“I hope to be an inspiration to the underclassmen so that they become devoted to service, even if they only do so occasionally,” Alyson said. She said she believes volunteering teaches lifelong lessons that are unable to be taught within a classroom.
“Communities are bettered when leaders take initiative and think of ways to enrich and change it and/or give back,” Alyson said. “I encourage everyone to look around and think of what changes they would like to see be made, and then step up and do it!”
Haily Zaremba is a student at Smith-Cotton High School.