The tale of the little boy and the starfish strongly parallels the life of Caroline Shadburn, a WHS production room technician.
While quietly printing papers and making copies in the back room, mostly unseen by many students, Shadburn is changing lives around the world.
With around 50 mission trips in 21 years, Shadburn has been to Cuba 22 times, Africa four times, Russia three times and Mexico twice for mission work. She is able to go on these trips through her church organization, Shreve United Methodist. The two main areas of focus for help for these trips are Kenya and Cuba, Shadburn said.
The focus in Cuba is to build housing for those in abusive situations and to build churches, Shadburn said. In Cuba, those who have the authority to open their own religious sanctuaries are not allowed to build their own churches, so most church services are held in small buildings similar to garages or huts.
Shadburn and those who travel with her raise money to hire local workers to build these religious sanctuaries, while helping the local people earn money at the same time.
“They [those helped on the trips] really help you in ways of reminding us how blessed we are, to even have our basic needs, such as flipping a light switch or having clean water,” Shadburn said.
Shadburn has been able to build relationships with those she meets on these trips.
Shadburn and her husband, Daniel, each have a child named after them in Cuba, and these children refer to them as “Mom and Dad.” The father of these children died when they were young.
Shadburn added that on the special occasion of little Caroline’s 4th birthday, she was able to call the young girl and remind her of her importance.
The main focus of the trips to Kenya are to provide the people with clean water. Like the trips to Cuba, Shadburn said their main goal is to raise money to get drilling for water. The poor and helpless people are drinking bacteria-contaminated water that causes diseases throughout the country.
“We don’t go on vacation; we go on mission trips. We like to travel with a purpose,” Shadburn said.
With tears in her eyes, Shadburn recollected the story of the boy with the starfish: He takes a walk on the beach and notices starfish scattered around the dry sand, waiting to be swept back into the ocean. Before it is too late, he grabs as many starfish as he can and begins to throw them back in the ocean. Although they are thousands of these small creatures thrown asunder, the little boy tries to help as many as he can. And for the ones who survive, his thoughtful action made a difference.
That is exactly what Caroline Shadburn is doing. “I can’t save the world, but I can help one person at a time,” Shadburn said.