Michelle Shaw of ALF’s Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses was presented with a ALF Len Hadley Volunteer Award during the American Lighthouse Foundation’s annual gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine, on April 28, 2019.
Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses first became acquainted with Michelle Shaw at the “Spring Fling” fundraising event in Hampton, New Hampshire, in April 2018, and she quickly informed the group of her desire to volunteer. Michelle is in her second year working with eighth grade students at the Rochester, New Hampshire, Middle School as a para-professional, a big jump after raising three children at home for 20 years.
She’s also currently a full-time online student working toward a degree from Granite State College in English and Language Arts with a Special Education certification, with a goal of teaching English at the middle school level. Michelle is also an accomplished photographer specializing in landscape and portrait photography; you can find her photos online under the name Sea Shells Photography. She says her first love is photographing lighthouses; and says she enjoys getting lost in the moment when she’s taking her photos.
Michelle became one of the chapter’s most dependable, dedicated, and enthusiastic volunteers in her first season, and was also elected to the chapter’s leadership committee. She volunteered for well over 100 hours at nearly 25 events in the 2018 season, including open houses at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, nighttime “haunted tours,” and lighthouse cruises.
When asked why she wanted to volunteer for Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, Michelle said she feels that lighthouses have a beautiful magic about them. “The history and the people who devoted their lives to keeping them is an amazing thing to me,” she said.
She continued: “The people who still keep them are an amazing thing to me, and I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of such a great organization. I love the feeling when I am walking toward the lighthouse on Sunday mornings to get ready for tours. It feels like home to me. I love the people I get to volunteer with each week and they have become a second family for me. I have learned so much in the past year, and I enjoy sharing that knowledge with the visitors to the lighthouse. Greeting visitors from around the world and giving them a piece of history to take away with them is a pretty great feeling.”
Michelle started last lighthouse season with an injury sustained making the long trek on the beach to Race Point Light on Cape Cod, and she ended the season with injuries from a car accident, but she didn’t let either of those incidents stop her from volunteering. If you need any further proof of how much of a lighthouse buff she is, check out her license plate.
We are pleased to honor Michelle Shaw with a 2019 Len Hadley Volunteer Award!