The West Virginia National Guard’s first female colonel, a leading medical volunteer in the Kanawha Valley, has received a national award for her service to the region.
Col. Pauline Shaver, a Charleston resident and Morgantown native, is the recipient of a 2014 Jefferson Award for Public Service, known as the “Unsung Hero” medal, for her community outreach efforts. The award, created by the American Institute for Public Service in 1972 is meant to serve as “a Nobel Prize for community and public service.” It is given to people across the country through a nominating network of media outlets and corporate partners.
Shaver was nominated by her friend and neighbor, Sylvia Lewis, and by several other anonymous individuals for her service.
“She’s really a remarkable lady,” Lewis said.
Shaver was promoted to full colonel by the West Virginia National Guard in 2012. She and her daughter, Joy, were the first mother-daughter members of any National Guard service in the country and the first mother-daughter charter members of the Women’s Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Joy served in Desert Storm and earned a Bronze Star.
Shaver, a nurse practitioner, was heavily involved in the establishment of Hospice services in Charleston in the 1980s, and also helped to establish a community health ministry through St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. Shaver also volunteered for 12 years, helping one member of the congregation with her health care needs.
She was also the first Red Cross-certified disaster nurse in the state, as well as the West Virginia National Guard’s first certified OSHA military officer.
“I was asked to go into practice in Preston County because there was a shortage of physicians, and they were searching for NPs to fill that void,” Shaver said. “Fast-forward, and the physician who sent me off to school to become a nurse practitioner said to me, ‘You can’t work in my office anymore, you’re not a nurse. You’re a nurse practitioner, and I want you to come into the National Guard with me. We need you there.’”
Shaver worked to establish health-care coverage for Desert Storm veterans through the Guard, and has volunteered for medical missions in South America with Medical Ministry International for the last 11 years.
“When I was told several years ago not to go on the medical missions anymore — I nearly died of MRSA — I told my doctor ‘I’m not stopping. God’s not through with me yet,’” Shaver said.
She regularly administers vaccinations on a volunteer basis, and has given 400 vaccines so far this year, according to Lewis.
Shaver has served as a Regatta Festival and FestivALL volunteer, as well as an ambassador for Charlie West and the City of Charleston. She has also volunteered with Youth Opportunity, 4-H, National Youth Science Camp, Manna Meal, Covenant House and the Clay Center. Shaver said recently that one of her three children, who works as the director of student education at WVU, told her about consoling and helping the family of WVU student Nolan Burch, who died earlier this month, and she was reminded of the importance of reaching out to others in need.
“The most important thing is loving other people and being thankful for what we have,” she said. “Because my daughter Trish, was directly involved in helping after the loss of that student — having to inform his parents and help pack his things — there was a morning I woke up...and realized the most important thing in our lives is loving each other and caring about each other.”
Shaver is currently working toward a counseling degree, and mentors several veterans in addition to her volunteer efforts.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at email@example.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.