If you’ve attended any of Fort Gordon’s MWR-sponsored events and partook in complimentary food and beverages, enjoyed live music/entertainment, participated in an array of activities at zero to low cost, or won a prize (several if you’re lucky), chances are you can thank Cathy Shaw.
Shaw, MWR Sponsorship and Advertising manager, spends a majority of her work days connecting with community partners and spending money – oftentimes, their money.
One of her most recent undertakings, the annual “10 Days of Giveaways,” is a prime example.
From Dec. 6-17 (Monday through Friday), the Fort Gordon community will have an opportunity to enter daily giveaway drawings for a chance to win some Christmas-worthy prizes.
Participants simply need to watch for announcements on the Fort Gordon MWR Facebook page and Instagram. Details for each prize package will be posted daily, so participants will know what they are entering to win. The following day, a winner will be randomly selected and announced prior to the next giveaway.
MWR items range from a round of golf at Gordon Lakes to overnight stays at Pointes West, meals at various MWR cafes, rounds of bowling at Gordon Lanes, and more. As for the community partner prizes, just about anything goes.
“I’ve worked with local partners in the community to get whether it’s restaurant gift cards, cash so that we can go out and buy items, swag bags, concert tickets, gift certificates, gift baskets, you name it, we pretty much have it to give away,” Shaw said.
DoD ID cardholders 18 and older are eligible to participate and must be able to pick up their prize in-person.
Shaw, who has been part of the MWR team five years, said the contest is one way to “give back during the holiday season,” adding that the support she has received from local community partners has been “amazing.”
“I say each year gets better and better,” Shaw said. “As you can see from my office, we received a lot of cash sponsorship as well, so we were able to go out and purchase a lot of items to add in with local restaurant gift cards and these gift baskets our partners have made as well.”
While entering the contest is as simple as a click of the mouse and stroke of the keyboard, the time and energy it takes to hold the contest is extensive. Planning begins around August, at which time she puts out a “call to action.”
“We make a little graphic, and we’ll put that out on our social media – I also put it on my personal social media as well … and then I follow up with the [partners] we have worked with over the years and also other partners that we work with throughout the year that I know might be interested.”
One might argue that many of those partners have joined forces with Fort Gordon largely due to Shaw’s successful networking abilities and her involvement in the community. A native of North Augusta, South Carolina, and daughter of an Air Force retiree, Shaw’s local ties run deep – something her supervisor, Heather Addis, said sets her apart from other candidates once vying for Shaw’s position.
“Her having lived in the area for so many years and her previous sales experience … Without her and her relationships that she has with these businesses, we would not be able to give out nearly as much as what we do, and that’s our goal … we want to spread some joy, and it’s hard to without that money,” said Addis, MWR Marketing manager.
Further explaining Shaw’s role, Addis said it is a unique and critical one that extends far beyond contests and prizes.
“The money that she brings in through sponsorship is used to then enhance whatever event it is – from the Independence Day celebration to our smaller events, like a run, or something of that nature – it’s just whenever the program managers work with her to identify their needs,” Addis said. “Then she is proactive in going out and finding the support that they need, whether it’s water or fruit for a run, or just to help with some of the expenses with events like our Independence Day celebration, which is huge.”
Luckily for the Fort Gordon community, Shaw has no plans of going anywhere – unless it involves shopping for Fort Gordon, of course. Having worked several years in corporate prior to her current position, Shaw said she didn’t find her former line of work nearly as fulfilling as it is now.
“With corporate, I didn’t really know where that money went, but now, with this role, whether it’s selling a giant banner on a building, a plasma ad, or a sponsorship for a run, I know that money is going back into the program or the facility or the event,” she explained. “To me, it just feels good. I know that I’m giving back to the service members and their families.”
Kelly Knitter, president of AUSA Greater Augusta-Fort Gordon Chapter and a retired Army officer, recently recognized Shaw with an Individual Merit Award on behalf of the organization. Knitter described Shaw as a “hidden gem.”
“She is an outstanding spokesperson for Fort Gordon and our local community,” Knitter said. “She has a wonderful giving heart and a friendly disposition that is infectious to those around her … she is a master of her craft of marketing and promoting the military throughout the CSRA.”
Although Shaw is waist-deep in the holiday season surrounded by prizes to be given out, she’s already looking ahead to next big thing: a wedding expo at the end of February.
“I believe it will be the first of its kind out here, so I’m excited,” Shaw said.
If anyone can pull it off, it’s Shaw.
“I tell her, ‘You go be the social butterfly, and I’ll be right here if you need anything,’” said Addis.