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Good Neighbors Group: Stopping Waste, Serving People

Julie Shay of Severna Park uses her vast network of volunteers to help others while keeping recycling a priority.

"She's a small person with a big heart," Larry Griffin, president of We Care and Friends.

Getting an email alert from Julie Shay tells the story of her work in the community. On a daily basis she lists community needs: volunteers, donations, available recycled items, groceries for the needy, medicines or a lost pet.

The petite brunette is the hub for connecting those in need by reaching out to an ever-growing network of people.

Changing the views of what is considered waste and what can easily be recycled into something useful to those in need is a full-time job for the Severna Park resident. You could say she considers herself a fanatic on stopping what she calls “the waste stream.”

Shay is a matchmaker of a different sort. Describing herself as someone who “finds homes for things,” she is an expert at connecting with what finds her—like bags of groceries (often left on her porch), clothing, books, ice packs, sports equipment, medicines for third world countries, lost pets and more—to someone who needs it.

The back of her Volvo is proof that she is on the go 24/7 as it is stuffed daily with discarded (and sometimes new) items that will become a blessing for someone in Anne Arundel County.

Joining her in the effort is a growing network of about 200 people, organizations and businesses from the area, all donating groceries to about 50 families and other items to organizations through Shay's Good Neighbors Group she founded in 2007.

Shay works with local organizations like We Care & Friends, the Arden House and many others that need something in the county and in Baltimore. “I fill in spaces where I see them,” she said.

“I have known Julie for many years and she has always been a dynamic person. Her passion for helping others especially the underdog is beyond compare. She never tires of collecting clothes, food items and even stray animals and finding a home for them,” Larry Griffin, president of the Annapolis-based We Care and Friends, wrote in an email to Patch.

“She believes there is a place for everything and nothing needs to go to waste. She has a loving, giving heart and always greets you with a smile. Julie wears many hats, she sits on the board of our organization, We Care and Friends, and plays as big part in our partnership. All I can say is Julie is a small person with a big, big heart,” Griffin wrote.

Matching the resource to the need is “like a jigsaw puzzle” said Shay, who considers herself a “garbage broker.”

“Things you no longer need can solve a problem,” she said.

Shay also works with local businesses on reducing waste and recycling what they no longer use—like fabric swatches recently donated by that could be recycled into tote bags. She hopes to reach out to more local businesses to get them onboard with her mission of recycling useful items.

Said Shay: “There's a home for everything.”

Mary Beth Dearing March 20, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Julie is amazing! She does more good for people and animals than anyone I've ever met! Keep up the great work!
steve shay March 21, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Go Julie!
R. Lynn Birus, Principal S.P.E.S. March 23, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Mrs. Shay brings that committment to others and the community into the school as well. She initiates programs in our school that allow our students to connect with those in need and foster their own giving spirit! She is a treasure! Mrs. Birus, Principal, Severna Park Elementary

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