Community Service Award winner Margaret Laurence
Laurence Finds Enrichment in Service Trips
Right from the start, Development's Laurence was ready to serve
By Reid Oslin
When she first interviewed for a job at Boston College five years ago, recalls Associate Director of Development for Parent Programs Margaret Laurence, she was almost as intrigued by what she heard about the University's Jesuit-sponsored service programs as she was by the job itself.
Once on board at BC, Laurence pursued her interest in service and social justice by volunteering for a number of University outreach programs. Most recently, she helped lead a team of 14 Boston College students on a 17-day service immersion trip in January to Tijuana, Mexico, as part of the Campus Ministry's Pedro Arrupe, SJ, International Solidarity Program.
In recognition of her efforts, Laurence has been named winner of the University's 2005 Community Service Award. She received the award from University President William P. Leahy, SJ at a dinner honoring Boston College's retiring and 25-year anniversary faculty members and employees held last night at the Heights Room in Corcoran Commons.
Laurence credits her job interview with Human Resources Director of Employee Development Bernard O'Kane as having rekindled her interest for a type of service beyond the workday.
"Bernie had just finished meeting with a group of students that he had," she recalled recently, "and he noticed that I had a background with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. We started our conversation on that."
Laurence had worked at the College of the Holy Cross for three years before joining the JVC, where she was assigned to family service organizations in San Diego. "Obviously, the Jesuit mission is very important to me," she said. "Social justice issues are dear to my heart."
Upon joining Boston College, Laurence became involved with the Campus Ministry's KAIROS Programs, a series of weekend retreats that encourage students to reflect on the role of God in their lives and "Operation Cleansweep," a joint alumni-employee-student effort to salvage usable household items left in residence halls and distribute them to non-profit social service agencies in Greater Boston.
Last fall, Laurence volunteered to participate in the Arrupe Solidarity Program, a campus organization that sends teams of students and adult leaders into impoverished areas of developing countries to live and work with local residents.
Throughout the fall semester, Laurence coordinated preparatory sessions to familiarize participants with cultural and economic issues facing their host country.
During the group's trip to Tijuana, team members helped build a home from start to finish and worked with members of the local community to plan sustainable housing for the future. Following the trip, team members continue to meet to process the experience into their own lives.
"Margaret was a tremendous role model for the entire group," said Assistant Dean for Student Development Chris Darcy, co-leader of the service trip. "They were long, intense days, but through it all, Margaret's energy, motivation, enthusiasm and passion was so evident and so embraced by the students. They really took their lead from that.
"I think that experience alone really typifies the type of person she is," Darcy said. "It was a privilege to serve with her and be a part of that group."
Laurence says her participation in service projects has yielded rich personal rewards. "One of the things that I think is ironic is that I am the one who has been personally enriched by it," she said. "I certainly am honored to receive the Community Service Award, but I find that it has been to my advantage to be a part of it. I feel honored and blessed."
Laurence says her involvement in service programs has paid dividends in her Development Office duties, too. "To me, working with students is so refreshing. They inspire me. As a fund-raiser, these are the stories that I share with potential donors as to why their gifts are important to the University.