My mission in life is to enjoy it, learn from it and leave it better than how we found it.




Eli Shaw was born in 1948 and grew up West Warwick, RI as Robert Eli Kershaw Jr. His parents and his Grandfather, Arthur Kershaw Sr. had a profound influence on who he was to become.

His grandfather told him once, "If you come upon an opportunity, look at it, study everything about it, chew it up and spit it out. If it still looks good, do it. If you do it you will know if you will succeed or not, and you will have learned something either way. If you don't you will never know." In his book you will understand better why it worked for him.


As a student he was challenged with failing eyesight, a brain he often said would talk to him, he was very comfortable being all by himself in his own world, which could have put him on part of the autism spectrum as it wasn't fully understood in the 1950s and 60s, and a thing we call today, ADHD, ADD but was known more as a slow child. After his Guidance counselor helped him to find a new way to take tests he went from a straight D student to an A student with more energy than he could handle at times.

His caregiving experience throughout his life was very diverse. But much of his work with kids and people with disabilities and illnesses such as AIDS was a direct result of the professionals who taught him how to function in a world where he was different. As a caregiver he worked professional and on a personal basis.

Like most kids of that time, he joined the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, church youth groups and 4-H. In his Senior year, he was selected as one of eight out of thousands nationwide to represent the youth of America in the Canadian National 4-H Congress. This was not for his academic excellence but for his community work and stamina. Later on in life he would be told that he was a man who took his own advice and won.


Eli was encouraged to join the 4-H clubs which would make a huge difference in his life. Eli volunteered to help with kids with disabilities in a youth group called STAR and went to Rhode Island School of Design for six years, later experiencing College for 4 years. His experience as a US delegate to the Canadian National 4-H Convention at 17 would foster interest in international programs later in life.


At 19 he founded Camp Happyness and volunteered later in life as a Photographer at a Camp for kids with Cancer and one for Families affected by HIV. His ability to jump on the opportunity bandwagon served him well and would steer him to great heights. He hosted hundreds of foreign exchange students for many years, fostering long and strong friendships around the world.


After being nominated for the Outstanding Young Men of America Award at Twenty, it was a natural jump to go global and live in Brazil on an IFYE exchange.


Eli was a freelance photographer since his twenties and was a Visual Display Artist for many major stores. Eli worked with the homeless, substance abuse programs and HIV/AIDS Peer Education coordinator in Yonkers.

He served on the Barre VT Community Justice Center. He worked as an Educational Technician for several schools in Vermont for twenty-two years and was a Retail Manager for the Non-profit called ReSource.

Eli now works with Washington County Mental Health Services and has been a PCA for one young man for twenty plus years.

His mission in life is to enjoy it, learn from it and leave it better than how he found it. This is evident with his commitment of taking on the role of father to his son Homer who you will read about in the book.


It all began in 1958 when I was ten. A young family had just moved into the neighborhood. One sunny summer day while I was sitting on the steps to my house, a young boy came up to me and rolled his ball to my feet. With the sun in my face I said hi and rolled it back. He ran off. A few days later he did it again. I eventually became friends with him. I told my mom that a Chinese family had moved into the neighborhood and their son, Charlie, was my new friend. She said, bring him over for supper. I did and after supper he left and my mom told me a story about people who have something called "Mongoloidism", now Down Syndrome. I became his mentor to protect him from the bullies and I got beat up more than he did. He suddenly left and I vowed that I would do something in my life that would change that bullying attitude. This book is about the sixty years since that time where I made good on my vows. It is a group of chapters that comprise the ah ha moments in my journey as a caregiver all over the world. I hope you enjoy and are enlightened by my story.