Volunteerism appeals to island lawyer
Tracking Jason Maughan’s thoughts and reflections is kind of like following the red bouncing ball.
It’s takes time to get into the cadence of his thoughts, leaping from one volunteer experience to another, from his chairing the group raising technology and instructional funds for the Sanibel School, to coaching and sponsoring little league sports, to his appointment to the Sanibel Planning Commission, his childhood in Captiva and Sanibel, sharing pirate stories and his passion for the islands as an Irish transplant and lawyer with international credentials.
Or privately sharing that 25 percent of his island law practice is done without compensation.
“(Jason) is really invested in the community,” said Kim Kouril, who has worked with Maughan in a number of volunteer positions in Sanibel in the last five years. “He’s always in the midst of serving our community. He has a good heart, he really does.”
Tall and rangy with perfectly combed hair, Maughan is an interesting character in an island noted for the exceptionally eccentric. He practices real estate law, but is directed in a libertarian sort of way to volunteer chunks of calendar time to both his professional services and private time as a parent, friend and spouse.
The Sanibel School Fund that he chairs raises donations of some $100,000 for second-language instruction and contemporary technology in classrooms — smartboards and desktops in kindergarten, for instance. Funding is a component of the school’s blue-ribbon status, he said. His son is enrolled in the school. He also coaches or sponsors flag football, T-ball and soccer in Sanibel.
He has also sat on boards of nonprofits like the Children’s Education Center of the Islands and the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or CROW. He was recently named to the city’s Planning Commission, the agency with oversight of development and other tasks. The Planning Commission in Sanibel is regarded as a stepping stone to the city council, the farm league for the majors in island politics. He would not discuss the possibility of seeking higher office, though he is clearly opinionated on issues of public spending and officeholder integrity.
The son of a successful Irish businessman, Maughan spent childhood years summering in Sanibel. He has nothing but pleasant memories of ranging the islands, tramping its beaches and back bayous, absorbing the culture until it became his own, he said. He stood out in school activities, mostly in services benefiting classmates. He moved permanently to the island with a couple of law degrees in 1986, consumed in the American ideals of the 1980s, he said, the strength and character of its values foreigners seem to appreciate more deeply than natives.
Despite professional success and his leadership in the island’s rich volunteer corps, Maughan, 43, remains feisty; he waxes loudly and in sometimes salty terms his embrace and financial support of working people, opening a low-rent cooperative for struggling artists, for instance, in an island property that he owns. He proudly displays an expensive office sculpture repossessed from an islander that was imprisoned for absconding with client funds.
More than anything, Maughan values integrity and honesty in those he associates with, he said.
“The first way I remain happy,” he said in an Islander interview a couple of years ago, “is by judging myself only by those who have less than I, instead of those with more.”