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VOL. 126 | NO. 254 | Friday, December 30, 2011

Paragon’s Shaw Spearheads Bank’s Nonprofit Efforts

By Andy Meek

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When talking about his financial institution, the president and CEO of Paragon National Bank leaves the impression that a person needs to have the spirit of a community volunteer to work at the small, Memphis-based bank he leads.

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

It’s almost like Robert Shaw leads two organizations wrapped in one – a community bank that earlier this month reported a profitable third quarter, as well as an organization that recently won an award for its volunteerism.

Paragon recently was named Corporate Neighbor of the Year by Volunteer Mid-South’s Corporate Volunteer Council during the group’s 25th annual Corporate Neighbor Awards.

“We think part of being a Memphis-based community bank is to be an integral part of the community,” Shaw said. “But most of our giving is not in money. Most of it is in our time.”

To that end, while Shaw is a veteran of the financial services industry, he’s also deeply involved in the community, something he expects Paragon and its employees to be too.

Shaw has served as an honorary co-chair of the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala for two years. He annually serves as a celebrity waiter at the Celebrity Chefs Gala benefiting the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.

He’s active in Woodland Presbyterian Church, and he currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of Woodland Presbyterian School and chairman of the Pinecrest Camp and Conference Committee Long-Range Planning Task Force.

For his bank at large, a majority of the community service is provided through outlets like Paragon’s ACTS (Assisting the Community Through Services) program, among others.

Paragon grants 40 hours each year to all bank employees. They’re supposed to use that time to volunteer for charitable organizations.

“When we started the bank in 2005 – a new bank just doesn’t have the kind of budget where we can only give dollars,” Shaw said. “So we encourage all of our employees to be out in the community.

“I think it’s just part of being a Memphis-based community bank. We take pride in Memphis and want to support Memphis. That’s really what a community bank does, and it means we’re involved in a lot of things.”

Those things include Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South. Since the bank’s opening six years ago, Paragon has given $10 to Make-A-Wish for every new account opened at Paragon.

“We’ve done a wish for Make-A-Wish every year we’ve been a bank,” Shaw said. “And this one’s fun for us because we make it into something fun. We actually grant the wish and create teams, and it’s a team-building exercise in addition to granting the wish of a sick child.”

Also in 2005, the bank adopted a class at Hawkins Mill Elementary School in North Memphis. Several times during the year, Paragon employees visit the classroom to engage the children in different activities.

“We go out there and do holiday parties, start-of-the-year parties, end-of-the-year parties and more,” Shaw said. “We sponsor supplies for the class, and several of us will go out there and do the party with those children.”

In other initiatives, Paragon has been a corporate sponsor for the Memphis Food Bank’s Student Food Drive for several years. In a recent Student Food Drive, the bank collected more than $11,000 in cash from customers and team members, along with more than 1,000 food items.

Employees also have participated in various blood drives, as well as fundraisers for cancer research.

“We have a big team for Race for the Cure every year,” Shaw said. “The last several years, we’ve done Relay for Life.

“I know you hear this all the time, but we’re the people sitting at Little League games – all that kind of stuff. It’s our community, too. We take a lot of pride in Memphis and in being involved.”

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426