06 Nov A Mission of Love – Shirlee’s Kids Foundation Contributes $10,000 to Palm Project
Tom and Shirlee Poulos were married for 32 years. During those 32 years, Shirlee always had a passion for helping children, doing anything their family could do to give back to the next generation including serving on the Care House Board of Directors, giving to the Bread and Table’s initiative—Pensacola’s Backpack for Kids program, and serving Mary’s Shelter for woman. Shirlee also served as a guardian ad litem for children in Florida. These were just a few ways Shirlee spread light and love to youth in their communities.
On August 14th, 2021, Shirlee Polos passed away from COVID-19. Since her passing, Tom and their daughter, Tiffany Halm, have made it their mission to do what they can to continue Shirlee’s desire and passion for taking care of our most valuable asset—our youth and children. Over the years, friends and loved ones of the Poulos family have often asked how they can honor Shirlee’s memory and that is when Shirlee’s Kids Foundation was born.
Shirlee’s Kids Foundation is a donor advised fund through the American Endowment Foundation that has allowed Tom and Tiffany to provide an avenue for those who wish to continue Shirlee’s legacy to make tax deductible donations that are later dispersed as grants to organizations making an impact on the lives of children in the community.
“We just have such a great love for children and their value and their innocence,” said Tom Poulos. “If we don’t do something to protect that innocence and enhance their value, and help them deal with all of the obstacles that are in our world today, then what are we here for.”
After Shirlee’s passing , Tom became acquainted with Terry Burkle, Executive Director for the Baldwin County Education Coalition. Tom learned about the Coalition and more specifically Palm Project, which immediately piqued his interest. Tom knew that this was an initiative that Shirlee would have supported, and he immediately donated $5,000 to support the project.
“Meeting Tom Poulos and learning about the legacy of his wife, Shirlee, has been a blessing to the Coalition,” said Terry Burkle. “We are grateful for the support from Shirlee’s Kids Foundation, and for the legacy Shirlee left among her community and family – one of serving and protecting our children.”
In 2023, there were plans for Shirlee’s Kids Foundation to host an event in partnership with the Coalition to specifically benefit Palm Project. While plans for 2023 did not come to fruition, Tom and Tiffany decided to continue to support Palm Project with another $5,000 donation from Shirlee’s Kids Foundation and to continue to communicate with the Coalition with plans to host an event in 2024 to continue to grow Shirlee’s Kids Foundation’s contribution to Palm Project in Baldwin County.
“Years ago, a close mentor, my spiritual father, said something to me and Shirlee,” said Poulos. “He said ‘when you meet your maker, he’s going to look at you and ask you one question—what did you do with the gifts that I gave you?’ I want to be able to say I took care of your children. Use your gifts that God gave you. Take Care of children. It’s a mission of love.”
Palm Project is a county-wide effort to stock each school’s care closet with essential items so students can focus on what matters most, learning. To learn more about Palm Project visit www.palmproject.info.
The American Endowment Foundation (AEF) gave the Poulos family an avenue for friends and family to contribute to Shirlee’s legacy. If you are interested in learning more about how to setup a donor advised fund to honor a loved one in your life, visit www.aefonline.org.