Mary Ellen Shay has been actively involved with the Sacramento Public Library since 1998, when her son was still in High School. “I contacted Diana Gin, a fellow Soroptimist, and the then president of the Friends of the Library.” The first thing we did was the Focus on Writers event. People from all over Northern California participated with famous writers giving workshops and at least 100 aspiring writers in attendance.
In 2000, Mary Ellen became the Treasurer for the Friends of the Library and joined the Foundation board as the Friends liaison. Along with several other Foundation board members, Mary Ellen helped establish Authors on the Move which today raises more than $40K a year for summer reading and has become Sacramento’s premier literary event.
“I love the Library because it is the Great Equalizer! Without education people can’t bring themselves up. The library is the place that supplements what is offered at schools. For many kids it’s all they have; it’s the place where they can get away from the bad stuff in their lives and it gives them confidence. Libraries offer possibilities. And of course I love the Sacramento Room and the history and beauty of the place. It’s electrifying. It makes me feel like I am a continuation of what was started here more than 150 years ago. The Big 4 decided they want to establish a library for the improvement of Sacramento, and it’s our responsibility to continue it. The Library is an essential part of Sacramento, our history and our future.
Mary Ellen has her own business, which she named M. E. Shay & Co; in honor of her father’s company which was R.C. Shay & Co. Her firm is designed to develop affordable housing opportunities for low income community members. Mary Ellen Shay’s commitment to the Sacramento community, where she has lived since 1976, is seen in all aspects of her life and work.