- Cullman, Alabama

June 8, 2014

Tanya Shearer recognized for service to community

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Ever since she was a little girl, Tanya Farley Shearer felt empathy for those who were less fortunate.

“Tanya just automatically sees ways to help others, then she puts feet to her dreams and makes them realities,” says National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) member, Linda Schgier, who belongs to the local Dripping Springs Chapter of the national organization.

Community Service Awards were established by the National Board of Management (of DAR) in April of 1995 as an opportunity for chapters and states to recognize worthy individuals in their communities for outstanding unpaid voluntary achievements in cultural, educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical, citizenship, or environmental conservation endeavors.

Shearer was presented with the honor at the DAR Awards Brunch on Saturday, May 3, at the Ruehl Building in Cullman.

The talented honoree was all smiles as she held the award certificate up for those in attendance to see.

One of the ways in which she utilizes her talents is through the Empty Bowls Project. In 2003, Shearer was responsible for undertaking the monumental task of pulling together potters, volunteers to buy supplies, cook, man the kitchen, setup and cleanup, advertise and promote the event, sell tickets and a multitude of other duties. The recipient of her labor of love was the Cullman Caring For Kids Food Bank (CCFK). The event was called Empty Bowls of Cullman. Since that time, she has been responsible for raising $79,000, which averaged to $8,425 a year in 2012.

“At first, potters from the city made the bowls, but it became too big [a project] for them so the art department of Wallace State Community College was asked to help by creating the bowls,” Shearer explained.

That move has proven to be a wise decision. It is now held in Herrin Hall, a part of First United Methodist Church. The event is always filled to capacity. 

Shearer is also the coordinator/liaison between 17 different partner groups of Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS), a voluntary partnership working to develop a strong qualified workforce to meet the needs of industry both today and the future.

Assistant Career/Tech Director and Cooperative Education Coordinator for Cullman County Schools, Billy Troutman, praised Shearer for her dedication to the CAWS program. “I have been fortunate enough to get to work with Mrs. Shearer on many occasions throughout the last several years in the Keeping It Real program that is sponsored by CAWS,” Troutman said. “Her dedication and service to CAWS and the community are very evident.”

“I know first hand how important and meaningful the Keeping it Real program is for our ninth-grade students,” Troutman continued. “This program provides real life insight to money management and life circumstances. Mrs. Shearer plays a key role in recruiting volunteers and organizing the programs in the various schools. She is always very professional and you can see that she truly cares about the students and community representatives that attend each of the programs.

“Mrs. Shearer is an asset to her employer, this community, and especially the students of Cullman County. She is an exemplary person for service recognition of any kind,”  Troutman said.

Shearer implements the Keeping It Real program for ninth-grade students in Cullman County and coordinates the Education Exchange Program between local industries and both city and county schools.

Tanya Shearer and her husband, Clay Shearer Sr., are the parents of two children, Natalie and Clay Jr., who are both married with children.

An active member of St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church, Tanya served as chaplain of the women’s fellowship, where she was called upon to give the devotion every month. She has had many of the devotions printed in church booklets, devotions for Advent and Lent, short stories, Christmas stories, and as a guest columnist in the local newspaper. She is the published author of a children’s book, “Rambo,” the adventures of Lamb and his Good Shepherd, a book that was used by St. John’s missions group as an aid to teach children in Kenya, Africa.

She has written two short stories, “A Legacy of a Little Dress”, which was published in “Chicken Soup For The Soul — Here Comes The Bride” in May 2012, and “A Reminder of Love” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul — Parenthood”, June 2013.

Mrs. Shearer has written a book, “Maria: Treasurers of the Heart”, about a young Cuban girl coming to America. Another work, “Empty Bowls in Our Town” is a story based on the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser here in Cullman, Alabama, which is yet to be published.

“For years, Cullman, Alabama was the only city in the world that had an Oktoberfest without liquor since the city and county were both dry. When Cullman went wet, there was a contest held for the name of our local drink. Tanya Shearer’s entry for ‘Oktoberzest’ was chosen the winner,” Schgier noted.

“It was a blessing to be able to do something to help others. It is an honor and a privilege to work with so many wonderful people in our community,” said Shearer.