SOCCER, FOOD AND FAITH
Mother-daughter team goes international to win
the 2022 Rough Notes Community Service Award
By Alice Ashby Roettger
“It is [all] for the children! Kids are kids all over the world. They want love. They need food. … Sometimes love looks like a soccer ball,” says Susan Shaw of the Shaw Insurance Agency in Hurst, Texas. And it is the Shaws’ “marriage” of family, faith, soccer and food that has resulted in an international effort, the scope of which neither Susan nor her daughter/partner Sarah could have envisioned. Nor did they ever envision that they’d become the recipient of the Rough Notes Company’s Community Service Award for their creation of the Goals for Bowls Foundation.
In Susan’s case, it all goes back to family—as so often is the case with successful people. A Texan born and reared, she pays verbal tribute to the values that her parents instilled in her through the years, and which she and her husband, Howard, have worked to instill in their own son and daughter.
Two cases in point: Susan’s physicist father made a conscious decision to control his own destiny workwise and started a real estate company. That entrepreneurial spirit prevailed throughout Susan’s childhood, as did a deep faith demonstrated by an example of annual tithing and participating in the Children’s Christian Fund. Giving back was expected, because “to whom much is given, much will be required.” Susan and her sisters were encouraged to participate in the choosing of what child to support as part of that giving-back philosophy.
Enter insurance. Germania, the company with which Susan’s parents had their insurance, approached them to open an agency in 1981. “Daddy’s” love was still real estate, to the point where he had written 13 books in addition to teaching real estate principles. So, after her husband became ill, “Mama” took on the venture with the proviso that she would handle only home personal lines. That went well until Germania wanted her to take on all lines and go electronic.
Susan and her husband moved back to Texas from Virginia Beach and purchased and renamed the agency, basing its philosophy on the Golden Rule. The fact that third-generation clients are an integral part of the Shaw Agency proves the efficacy of the firm’s relationship focus, rather than a transactional thrust. (Shaw Insurance Agency was the Rough Notes Agency of the Month in February 2022.
So how did soccer and Goals for Bowls (GFB) enter the picture? Part of the Golden Rule approach was for Shaw Insurance to give back to the community—evidenced by a list of activities so long that it takes up more than a page. In 2016, having graduated from Texas A&M, daughter Sarah was beginning to search for her own way to serve, possibly through a nonprofit.
As a 7-year-old child, she had been asked by her pastor the usual “what do you want to do when you grow up” question. Her reply as a fledgling soccer player was, “I want to teach others about Jesus around the world through soccer.” The realization of that ambition had lain fallow until injuries that occurred during her college years made it apparent that her soccer career was over.
At the same time, while searching for ideas, Sarah read Blake Mycoskie’s book, Start Something That Matters, in which he introduced the one-for-one concept—buy a pair of TOMS shoes and another free pair will be given to a needy child via various humanitarian organizations. “I know what I want to do,” Sarah declared. After all, she certainly knew about soccer; and because of her experience of serving with her family at a food pantry, she knew about food. In addition, because sharing faith is in the Shaw family DNA, what better way to feed spiritually hungry children than through soccer balls and food?
A bit of serendipity occurred when a local attorney, himself a Texas A&M alum, offered to help set up a 501(c)(3), and GFB was off and running officially. For every soccer ball bought and used personally or given to someone locally, the Foundation buys and provides a ball and a meal to needy children during a GFB mission trip overseas, the first of which was to Ghana.
Why Ghana? That’s another bit of serendipity. During a summer soccer camp, Sarah had met a group of players from Ghana who had traveled to the States under the auspices of a program called Right To Dream. Part of the players’ experience was to live in a boarding school and play soccer. Some later played professionally after finishing their education. Sarah learned how soccer had changed their lives and, possibly unknowingly, she had tucked that away.
A true nonprofit
Expenses? All of the soccer balls are stored in an extra office at Susan’s workplace, thus no overhead. Because Susan and Sarah take no salary and pay their own travel expenses, 100% of the money specifically donated for food goes directly to the children. And by the way, Susan points out, “We purchase nutritious foods from the area we are working in, so we know what their diet is and what their physical needs are. We are paying into their local economy, which is relationship building for our organization and the local missionary we are there working with. We stick to grocery staples, so it stretches every dollar we spend.”
How does GFB raise funds? Of course, a speech brings in donations. An SEC network interview with Sarah brought to light the work of GFB. And Susan recently participated in a 4x4x48 walk organized by and for agents. Every four hours over a 48-hour span she walked four miles, showing her progress on Facebook and hoping to garner $1,500 in donations for GFB. She realized more than double that amount.
Local charitable organizations also have joined in the campaign. For example, as GFB has expanded its reach both geographically and in terms of other needs; a grant from the Rotary Club provided funds for 50 clean water filter systems in a mountain village outside of Guatemala City.
Susan and Sarah also have learned that some gifts come completely out of left field. A case in point: At this year’s Rough Notes Agency of the Year dinner, of which the Community Service Award is an integral part, someone asked how much Bibles cost GFB. “The next morning,” Susan relates, “a person came up to me at breakfast and pressed $500 into my hand for the upcoming mission to Bolivia and said it was for Bibles only.”
Speechless, she hugged him, expressed her thanks and reassured him that the entire amount would go to that specific cause. (The lilt in Susan’s voice when she speaks of GFB’s needy children goes a long way to inspire groups or individuals, such as the quiet Bible gift giver.)
Community still in the picture
In order not to neglect the community that helped Shaw Insurance succeed, among other efforts, The GFB Foundation is helping the local area’s large Nepalese community become established. Susan reports that some of the Community Service Award money will be used to give Nepalese parents a leg-up by providing food “to help get them through a rough patch. These families would then be directed to other services that could assist them long-term.”
Susan shares that, “in addition to our GFB soccer balls, we have Mission Soccer Balls with the gospel written on it in Nepalese for those new citizens of the local community.” Chuckling, she adds, “We can help with that through the gift of a round ball. When you see the smiles on the faces of young children when they see the soccer ball, it is hard to put into words but, yes, it truly is the beautiful game!”
In addition, this summer, working with the local Euless City Council and the Euless mayor, Sarah will be working children during a soccer minicamp and will be helping to distribute food locally to needy people in the community.
To date, according to the Goals for Bowls website: GFB has taken seven mission trips, distributed 225 soccer balls, provided 75,000 meals, gifted 460 Bibles, and donated 75 clean water filter systems. Those numbers will increase following this year’s trips.
All of this is under the direction and inspiration of a mother-and-daughter team. What started as a small way to bring joy, nourishment and faith to underprivileged children has grown beyond anyone’s imagination.
In like manner, more than 20 years ago, when Robert Kretzmer and Walt Gdowski joined to create the Rough Notes Community Service Award in order to honor independent agents who give back to their communities, they never envisioned such an agent “going international” through faith, soccer and service.
If you know of an agency that warrants consideration for the Rough Notes Community Service Award, look for a nomination form in a later edition of Rough Notes magazine. This year’s winner received a trophy in the shape of a sculptured eagle and the Goals for Bowls charity received $5,000 in the name of the Shaw Insurance Agency.
For more information:
Goals for Bowls Foundation
Shaw Insurance Agency
Alice Ashby Roettger is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also serves as an editorial assistant at Rough Notes magazine.