BETHANY >> Gerry Shaw, a founding member of the Bethany Garden Club, was presented with the Connecticut Tribute Award for All-Around Excellence by the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut.

The Awards Luncheon was held at the Aqua Turf Club on Oct. 26 and attended by about 400 people, including regional presidents and the National Garden Club president. The award was presented by Jane Waugh, president of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut.

This honor is the highest individual state award and is only given when the Connecticut State Leadership Team feels a worthy candidate is presented for consideration. The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut are composed of 128 individual clubs with over 6,700 members.

Shaw’s resume with the club is extraordinary and she is the only founding member with active leadership responsibilities. Shaw has held every office and position with a high standard of dedication and integrity over a period of 50 years. She has performed the duties of every office as the club began to define itself and its structure. She has been listed multiple times as president and co-president, secretary, and chairwoman of the following committees: Environmental, Horticulture, Newsletter, Publicity, Hospitality, Fundraising, Meeting Notification, Flower Show, Yearbook and By-Laws. Those are just working titles. Shaw is not one to limit her contributions to her latest position. Her experience and respect has earned her the unofficial title of “Trusted Adviser.”

Last year the executive board of the Bethany Garden Club held a formal review of its bylaws and constitution. It was in this exercise that the depth and breadth of the experience that Shaw has had over the last 50 years shined through. She was in the unique position to offer a history of the club that only she could share first hand. With her explanations, you could feel the founding principles that those neighbors had in mind so many years ago when they began the club in her kitchen. But it doesn’t end there. She kept up with the times as she herself transitioned over her 50 years as a member; becoming a wife, homeowner, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and widow. She remains a full-time working woman, still holding down a responsible and public job as the Woodbridge first selectman’s assistant. She is well aware of the changing demands on people’s time and where the early rules may have become outdated.

Her perspective is priceless and she has a deep respect earned from her many years of service.

She is always eager to help however she can and never shies away from volunteering. Some of her contributions have become tradition, like making her big beautiful swag for the New Haven Ronald McDonald House each Christmas.