Thursday, September 29, 2016

Happy Birthday to President Carter, an Inspiring Stonecatcher!

President Carter greeting the congregation before teaching Sunday School
Maranatha Baptist Church, Plains, GA, May 22, 2016

President Carter speaking at the Carter Weekend
luncheon on his boyhood farm, May 21, 2016

In celebration of President Jimmy Carter's 92nd birthday on October 1, 2016, Peggy and I, and Tom and Dougie Trumble, share our heartfelt thoughts about the impact he and Rosalynn have made on our lives, and the lives of millions of people around the world. They are inspiring stonecatchers!

The following is an updated version of the August 26, 2015 letter (and Hartford Courant Op-Ed) my good friend Tom Trumble and I sent to President Carter while he was being treated for cancer. It says it all.

Don Shaw, Jr
Writer and Editor

The Carter Center

One Copenhill

453 Freedom Parkway

Atlanta, GA 30307

Dear President Carter,

“No photos! Keep working! We’ve got homes to build!” Your impassioned work site charge, as our benevolent taskmaster, always kept us focused on what was important – getting the job done.

Constructing at least one hundred Habitat for Humanity homes in one week at your annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project is an incredible challenge. Shepherding three thousand volunteers from around the world, from different cultures and ethnicities with diverse languages, you and Rosalynn have shown us it can be done anywhere in the world through hard work and unwavering resolve. Building one hundred simple, affordable homes, working side by side with new homeowners to be, is a miracle of deep faith, selfless teamwork, long sweaty hours, and untiring commitment to Habitat’s mission. Thank you for leading by example – hammering and sawing as vigorously as anyone.

South Africa was our first Carter Work Project, a project centered on reconciliation from years of apartheid. The initial one hundred homes we built in 2002 outside of Durban, in a community aptly renamed “Ethembeni” (a place of hope), is now a thriving village of many more homes and local services. After witnessing the tremendous power of international collaboration to help families build new safe and healthy homes, we unhesitatingly volunteered for your projects in Mexico, India, Thailand, and twice in Haiti after its devastating earthquake. 

Openly engaging us through your daily briefings and lessons, especially your amazing Sunday school lesson in Haiti, made us feel part of your inner circle. It’s a mighty big circle, indeed! Your after-hours discussions on world events, and the Carter Center’s tireless work, ranging from the soon to be complete eradication of Guinea worm disease to monitoring elections to brokering peace relations around the world, made us realize our Habitat work is diplomacy at its best – moving from advocacy to action to achievement. 

With each project we returned to our home affiliate, Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity, with new experiences to share about Habitat’s great work and impact in eliminating poverty housing in other countries. It reinforced the importance to Hartford Habitat donors to share our abundance by faithfully continuing to tithe 10% of our unrestricted funds to Habitat affiliates outside the United States. It is critical to sustaining Habitat‘s worldwide mission. As you have taught us so well, adequate shelter should be a basic human right throughout the world.

This past May we were thrilled, honored, and grateful to be invited to meet with you and Mrs. Carter during Habitat for Humanity International's Carter Weekend in Georgia. You can count on us to “Keep working!" at home and abroad because "We’ve got homes to build!”

Happy Birthday!!

Don & Peggy Shaw
Tom & Dougie Trumble

The following photos were taken on the back porch of President Carter's boyhood farmhouse on May 21, 2016, in Plains, GA, during Habitat for Humanity International's Carter Weekend.

Peggy and Don Shaw with President and Mrs. Carter

Dougie and Tom Trumble with President and Mrs. Carter

Photos of President Carter at Marantha Baptist Church and Carter Weekend luncheon by Don Shaw, Jr.
Photos of the Shaws and Trumbles courtesy of Habitat for Humanity International.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Plant More Milkweed!

Monarch Butterfly in My Backyard September 12, 2016

After a two year absence, a Monarch Butterfly set down to feed in our backyard! We watched as it entertained us throughout the afternoon.

"In the spring, summer and early fall, they can be found wherever there are milkweeds. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds and they're always searching for them in fields, meadows and parks. Many people plant milkweeds in their gardens. Females will look for available milkweed plants to lay eggs. 

The eggs hatch after approximately four days. The caterpillars are small and they grow many times their initial size over a two-week period. The caterpillars feed [exclusively] on the available milkweed plant. When they get big enough, each caterpillar forms a chrysalis and goes through metamorphosis.

The chrysalis protects the monarch as it is going through the major developmental change of turning from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The chrysalis is green with yellow spots. After another 2-week period, an adult butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis."*

Please create a welcoming environment for the Monarch wherever you can. We need to do as much as we can to protect and save this beautiful species.

Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor

* Source: National Wildlife Federation

Photograph by Don Shaw, Jr.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants

Hartford Karen Community New Year Celebration January 16, 2016

Georges Annan-Kingsley, Hartford Artist

In recent years I've been fortunate to work with many refugees and immigrants in Hartford through my work with the South Marshall Interfaith Coalition and the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association's Welcoming Committee. Want to help address refugee and immigrant assimilation and civic engagement? Here's a great opportunity. 

The City of Hartford is looking for eight to nine volunteers to serve on its Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs.   I encourage Hartford area residents to apply for a position on Commission. Make a difference. Be a stonecatcher!

Below is the Commission's media release in English and Spanish with the particulars.

Commission on Refugee an Immigrant Affairs

In 2013, the City of Hartford created the Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA) to advise the mayor and city council on issues and concerns affecting the city’s refugee and immigrant residents and to promote refugee and immigrant civic engagement.

In its first year the commission worked on municipal identity cards, supported an ordinance revision that strengthened Hartford’s status as a sanctuary city, and urged the city to do a better job of communicating essential information (including health information) through community media outlets in different languages.

CRIA meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 pm in the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, and meetings are open to the public.

Commissioners are volunteers appointed by the mayor to serve renewable terms of one or 2 years. Any area resident may apply for a position on the commission (if they are immigrants or refugees or their work serves immigrant incorporation).

To bring refugee and immigrant issues to the attention of the Commission or for information about applying to serve on the commission, email Find out more about Hartford commissions and the CRIA website (in progress) at

Comisión de Asuntos de Refugiados e Inmigrantes

En el 2013, la ciudad de Hartford creó la Comisión de Asuntos de Refugiados e Inmigrantes (CRIA) para aconsejar al alcalde y el concejal de la ciudad sobre las cuestiones y preocupaciones que afectan a los residentes de la ciudad que son refugiados e inmigrantes y promover el compromiso cívico de los refugiados e inmigrantes.

En su primer año, la Comisión trabajó en las tarjetas de identidad municipales, apoyó una revisión de una ordenanza que fortalece la ciudad de Hartford como una ciudad santuario, e ínsito que la ciudad hiciera un mejor trabajo de comunicar información esencial (incluyendo información de salud) a través de los medios de comunicación en diferentes idiomas.

CRIA se reúne el segundo martes de cada mes a las 6 pm en la Biblioteca Pública de Hartford, 500 Main Street, y las reuniones están abiertas al público.

Los Comisionados son voluntarios y designados por el alcalde para servir un período renovable de uno o 2 años. Cualquier residente puede aplicar para una posición en la comisión (si son inmigrantes o refugiados o su trabajo sirve la incorporación de los inmigrantes).

Para traer asuntos de los refugiados e inmigrantes a la atención de la Comisión o para información sobre cómo aplicar para formar parte de la comisión, envíe un correo electrónico a . Conozca más acerca de las comisiones de Hartford y el sitio web de CRIA (en proceso) en .

Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor