VENICE — Scholarships awarded by the Venice branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW) for girls attending TechTrek, will now be called the Shirley Reid Scholarships.
The designation honors Reid, who served as branch president from 2009 to 2013 and later, president of the statewide organization. She died unexpectedly this past week following a recent move to Philadelphia to be near family, one day before her 83rd birthday.
Reid, who had lived in the Chicago area, made her retirement home in Venice for two decades following a career in elementary education.
In addition to her teaching, she was also a director of a program called Family Power House, an after-school activity to provide less-advantaged children with tutoring and an evening meal.
During her term as AAUW branch president, she guided the Venice organization to achieve 501©3 status, enabling it to solicit foundation and public funds in a way not possible without this nonprofit designation.
With expanded fundraising options, the Venice branch provided more than $21,000 in scholarships to TechTrek in the last five years.
This week-long residential camp, which began as a national AAUW program, now operates two yearly summer sessions in Florida. The camp is designed to provide hands-on experience for girls in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) and introduce them to professionals in these fields.
Reid went on to become president of Florida AAUW, and led an expansion of TechTrek across the state and establishment of the AAUW FL Supporting Foundation, and encouraged branches to intensify focus on public policy.
Venice AAUW also sponsors scholarships for women who have interrupted their education or started a degree later in life and has provided almost $80,000 to this program since 2015.
“Shirley epitomized the kind of individual for whom these scholarships are meant,” according to Kathleen Pickering, current Venice AAUW president.
Reid began a college program at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and put that on hold when she married husband Ralston and raised a family of six children. At age 48, she returned to school and got her educational degree from the University of Illinois, commuting with one of her sons who was enrolled at the same time.
“She had a way of encouraging us to get involved,” said Kathy Black, who followed Reid as branch president. “If you stood close to Shirley, you would be the next chair of a committee. We could never say ‘no’ to her fabulous smile.”
She remained committed to AAUW and its mission to empower and advance women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.
About AAUW, she said, “It changed my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be where I am today. I’m filled with gratitude to this organization and I believe in its mission.”