Miriam Shaw’s Legacy of Generosity

Most people in North Central Massachusetts have likely never heard of Miriam Shaw, but her generosity has touched the community in ways that are still being felt today.

Shaw was born into a prominent Boston family in 1882 and spent most of her life in Harvard, Massachusetts. She never married or had children but lived with various friends and relatives, including her aunt Clara Endicott Sears, a well-known New England author and preservationist. Shaw herself was remembered fondly by locals for helping found the Harvard Garden Club.

To the surprise of many community members, when Shaw passed away at the age of 93 in 1982, she bequeathed tens of thousands of dollars to charity. In her will, she gave $50,000 to multiple organizations, including the Nashoba Community Hospital in Ayer. The hospital later became the Nashoba Deaconess Hospital, which transferred funds to Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation to establish the Nashoba Valley Community Healthcare Fund (NVCHF) in 2006.

Since that time, the Miriam Shaw Fund, based in Providence, has continued to distribute funds to the NVCHF annually, helping the fund grow from $900,000 to more than $2.5 million and give more than $1.8 million in grants for improvement of healthcare and healthcare education in the Nashoba Valley region. Shaw’s generosity has also extended to the arts, public libraries, and local schools and hospitals.

“Leaving a legacy, as Miriam Shaw did for nonprofits she was passionate about, ensures funding and support to critical needs in our community,” says Linda Mack, Vice President of Development and Donor Services at the Community Foundation.

Follow Miriam Shaw’s inspiring example: Learn how you can create a lasting legacy and benefit your community forever by opening a fund with the Community Foundation.


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