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Paula Shaw


Allen-Shaw Foundation, Inc

Allen-Shaw Reading Room





…first of its kind in Jamaica-A district library for residents…

-Mandeville Weekly, December 19, 1996


Why I Started the Allen-Shaw Reading Room


It began with an old set of 1976 World Book Encyclopedias packed in a suitcase slated for a retirement plane ride to Jamaica.  My parents retired in 1996. My sister and I begged my mother to leave the old set of 1976 encyclopedias behind because we felt that they were dated and there were no black history information to be found in them.  She didn’t listen to us and packed them along with her other books.  She is an avid reader.


At the end of the same year I visited my parents in Jamaica and found out that the children from the local high school were using her 1976 encyclopedias to do their research papers.  I was more saddened than shocked.  I also found out that with all the books my mother brought with her, she became a mini library in the community, and all her books were borrowed out and were basically tattered from overuse.  I found out that the nearest library has been closed for years and the next available one was 14 miles away.


I called it a vision, because it suddenly came to me one day when I was walking down the road, that I should start a library.  When I returned to New York, I called my mother to let her know what I wanted to do and asked her to find a space.  With permission from one of the local churches in the District, we use a basement space and started the Allen-Shaw Reading Room.  I created posters, sent emails, and made phone calls to almost everyone I knew asking for books, computers and other educational materials.  I remember pushing my shopping cart from door to door in my neighborhood collecting books.  After a time, people wanted to donate money so I created the Allen-Shaw Foundation, Incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 organization to accommodate financial donations.


I named the foundation in honor of my grandmothers, Anita Soares and Doris Shaw, two strong women who were a great influence in my life.  I wanted to honor the diversity of each of their lives, one who read and one who did not.


It is an honor and a privilege to serve the community where both my grandparents lived.  The one room home where my grandmother Anita raised her children is now gone, however, the old stones and mud used to build that room, now lies at the bottom of the Allen-Shaw Reading as part of the foundation.  And the library sits besides the home of my grandmother Doris, where we spent our childhood before immigrating to America.  


I am grateful for all the positive support we have received, this support will continue the legacy of literacy.


Paula Shaw


2008-Islanders Cultural Organization of New Jersey

Cultural Awareness Award

2003 JAMPACT Heroes of the Diaspora Award




2008 Cultural Awareness Award-Islanders Cultural Organization of New Jersey


2005 Upliftment Jamaica International Community Service Award


2003 JAMPACT-Heroes Of  The Diaspora Nanny Award 


Air Jamaica Skywriting, October 1999

Article:  “Don’t Throw Those Books Out

Written by Rebecca Tortello 


Southern Heart Beat, August 1999

Article: Opening the Way to Literacy


Southern Heart Beat, July 1999 

Article:Honouring the Future, Respecting The Past


Mandeville Weekly, April 15, 1999

Article:  Senior Citizens Treated by the Allen-Shaw Foundation & Marcus Garvey Youth club


Mandeville Weekly, February 1999

Article "Marcus Garvey Club and Allen-Shaw Reading Room Honor Golden Age"


Marcus Garvey Community Club: Social Development Commission Certificate of Merit


The Jamaican Observer, October 31, 1998

Article:  Savanna-la-Mar High making strides



The Gleaner, January 16, 1997 (Editorial Comments)


JBC Television (Video Tape Available)


Morning Time-December 23, 1996

A Ray Of Hope-December 26, 1996


Mandeville Weekly, December 19, 1996

Article:  New Innovative Library in South Manchester




















    © COPYRIGHT 2005 The Allen-Shaw Foundation.