Donald Shauger Honored by West Orange Elks as Citizen of the Year
February 23, 2015
On February 21, 2015, Donald Shauger, The Shauger Group (TSG’s) Executive Vice President, was honored by the West Orange Elks Lodge No. 1590 as “Citizen of the Year.” Each year, the West Orange chapter of the Elks recognizes individuals for exceptional contributions to the community at-large by presenting four awards: Citizen of the Year, Elk of the Year, Lady of the Year, and Officer of the Year.
The Citizen of the Year title is bestowed upon a local citizen whose actions are consistent with the mission of the Elks as an organization. As the Elks’ website officially states, the Elks was established nationwide to cultivate good fellowship and to invest in “communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet need, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans.” Many programs supported and sponsored by the Elks benefit children with special needs, veterans, athletic teams, scouting organizations, and educational programs.
“The Citizen of the Year doesn’t necessarily have to be an Elk,” said West Orange Elks Exalted Ruler, Donald Reitmeyer. “We choose someone in the community who has helped out people, who has helped out with charity events, or whose efforts in the community are similarly in line with the goals of the Lodge.”
Shauger’s constant dedication to community projects and initiatives that better the lives of others made him a top contender, according to Reitmeyer.
“We wanted to recognize him for his continued efforts in the West Orange community,” said Reitmeyer. “He was recommended highly by people who know him, know what he has done, and know who he has helped.”
At the ceremony, Reitmeyer presented Shauger with the Lodge’s Citizen of the Year award, as well as with a second award.
“On behalf of our lodge, we’re presenting you with this plaque in appreciation of your exceptional contributions and service to the community of West Orange,” said Reitmeyer, addressing Shauger. “Also, from our Grand Lodge, the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award is presented to [you] for outstanding emeritus service to humanity by West Orange New Jersey Lodge Number 1590 and the Grand Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.”
Colleen Blasi, West Orange Elks Secretary, made note of one specific instance that essentially “guaranteed” Shauger as Citizen of the Year.
After the tragic passing of West Orange resident, Caroline Vandemark, who died at 22 years old from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, The Elks helped to organize a 5K in her honor. The Caroline Fund 5K, which took place on September 13, 2014, in Caldwell, NJ, raised money for brain and spine tumor research.
At last minute, the Elks realized that they were missing some necessary items for the day of the race and reached out to TSG requesting its assistance in obtaining them. On behalf of TSG, Shauger agreed to help, especially when learning of the purpose of the 5K and its benefit to cancer research. TSG secured everything requested and delivered the items to specified locations for the 5K.
The Elks organization appreciated TSG’s fast response and, especially, Shauger’s willingness to help at all costs.
“You think of all of the things he does, and he’s so outstanding in the community,” said Blasi. “He’s just an outstanding person.”
“I am truly, truly proud to accept this award today on behalf of my family,” said Shauger. “I am truly, truly proud to be honored by the Elks right here in West Orange. I will always treasure this award.”
Shauger’s role in the West Orange community has spanned across multiple decades, with Shauger even acting in official capacities. Shauger served as Deputy Mayor of the Township of West Orange for four years. He was a Member of the Township of West Orange Planning Board and eventually served as the Board’s Chairman. He was also a member of the West Orange Recreation Advisory Committee.
Shauger’s community efforts in West Orange and the surrounding community have been numerous. In 2014, Shauger and his wife, Lisa, in memory of their lifelong friend, Officer Timothy Groves, established the Officer Groves Scholarship within the West Orange Scholarship Fund. The Officer Groves Scholarship serves to benefit students in financial need who are interested in law enforcement and/or in pursuing the academic path of Criminal Justice, and the Shaugers contribute to the Scholarship whenever a West Orange resident with whom the Shaugers were close passes away. The Shaugers contribute to countless other West Orange-based charities and organizations, such as the West Orange Cow Parade, the West Orange Energy Diet, the West Orange PAL, the Codey Fund for Mental Health, and several others.
The Shaugers have donated considerably to West Orange’s Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church. A Grotto was installed by TSG in 2003 as a gift to the parish from the Shauger and Aufiero families. For the Grotto project, TSG donated material and labor, installed benches, installed parishioner-donated pavers, and provided landscaping services. Year-round, TSG performs miscellaneous landscaping, cleaning, and repair work for the church. Additionally, TSG donates the services of one of its Site Technicians once per week to attend to any minor maintenance concerns that arise at the church.
Even in his youth, Shauger was similarly committed to bettering the community and was making a name for himself locally. Shauger was honored as Orange-West Orange “Youth of the Year” in 1979 by The Optimist Club of Orange-West Orange. Shauger was frequently recognized for his efforts to make the community safer and cleaner; he and a couple of his friends appeared in the West Orange Chronicle after they volunteered to remove graffiti from buildings.
From 1978-1981, Shauger served as the Governor of O.C.A.Y. (Organization of Concerned Adults and Youths) of West Orange, Colgate Chapter. O.C.A.Y. was an organization created in order to bring adults and youth together and give youth a productive role in the community. The West Orange Elks organization was a major sponsor of O.C.A.Y.; Elks members Robert Benson and Joann Tutalo are pictured below with Shauger in 1979, presenting O.C.A.Y. with a check.
Shauger has always been proud to call West Orange his hometown. As Shauger has always said, he was not raised in West Orange—he was raised by West Orange!