Why I Give

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Why I Give

King Shaw

“When I first started at the School of Social Work, a professor asked, ‘Why are you here?’ and some people said for religious reasons, some people said because it feels good and they’re motivated to do it. The professor said, ‘It’s because we are all damaged and there’s this subconscious idea that if somehow we get to where we can fix other people we can fix ourselves. That has stuck with me. To me, I’ve been fixing myself out here for the last 20 years while helping my kids and tenants start their own businesses. What is better than that?”

— King Shaw (BBA ’74, MSW ’91), on why he is an Annual Fund donor, giving $1,000 each to the Dean Charles Stewart Scholarship Fund and the School of Social Work Discretionary Fund.

When King Shaw completed his undergraduate degree at UGA in 1974 he was poised to take over the family business, the King Plow farm implement manufacturing company, founded in 1902. However, the farm crisis of the 1980s forced the company to shut down in 1986. Shaw reluctantly sold the family business and eventually sought a new career path by earning a master of social work degree at UGA in 1991. While in the program, the new owner of King Plow defaulted on his loan. A savvy businessman, Plow’s agreement to sell had included a provision that would return the property to him should the buyer default.

“I got it back, now what am I going to do with it?” Shaw says he thought at the time.

He decided to make the space available for free to local groups raising money for AIDS awareness and other charities. Later he allowed artists to set up shows in his event spaces in order to give them exposure and produce a creative tone for events. With mounting interest from potential tenants and support from the Atlanta Arts Blueprint for Action, which outlined the needs of the arts community in Atlanta, Shaw devised a master plan for the property to rent and eventually sell space to artists and businesses for residential and commercial use.

Today the King Plow Arts Center on West Marietta Street accommodates 600-700 people in 230,000 square feet of space on 12.5 acres. Businesses and organizations housed there include the Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School, the Actors Express Theatre and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts.

Want to give? Go to http://www.externalaffairs.uga/os/makegift.