May 27, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 18

Students Are Allston-Brighton's 'Unsung Heroes'

The hundreds of Boston College students who volunteer as tutors, service providers, landscapers, painters - and sometimes just friends and companions - for citizens in the University's neighboring community will be honored collectively as an "Allston-Brighton Unsung Hero" at the Allston-Brighton Healthy Boston Coalition Awards Dinner on June 1.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino will lead a delegation of city and neighborhood officials attending the event to be held in the Heights Room of Corcoran Commons, starting at 6 p.m.

While "Unsung Hero" honors are traditionally given to individuals who have worked to make Allston-Brighton a safe and welcoming place, said Executive Director Judy Andler, Boston College's volunteers will be recognized as a group for their wide-spread service projects throughout the community.

"Boston College student volunteers live and learn in our community thoughtfully and with respect," she said. "As friends, mentors, dance partners with our seniors and basketball competitors with our youth, they make a difference in all of our lives.

"When considering our 'heroes,' almost every single person on the committee has had their own program or their own lives affected by a Boston College volunteer. It really means something to be chosen for this award. I want to make sure that every volunteer knows the depth of appreciation that we have."

Dan Ponsetto, director of the University's Service and Learning Center, says students representing scores of different campus organizations have pitched in to help their Allston-Brighton neighbors with projects ranging from weekly tutoring sessions in public schools to annual park clean-up days.

"There is no shortage of energy on the part of students for wanting to taking on projects and wanting to commit themselves to on-going relationships with any agency that is doing good work in the community," Ponsetto said.

Ponsetto said approximately 150 students from the 4Boston service program are connected to Allston-Brighton social and educational activities and another 75 undergrads affiliated with the campus chapter of the Massachusetts Campus Compact are tutoring in local schools on a weekly basis.

Boston College's Appalachian Volunteers are involved in service projects at four different neighborhood sites, he said, and groups from the Lynch School of Education, Athletic Association, First Year Experience, UGBC, the Catholic School Connects programs and many others offer their time and services to various community organizations and activities.

"There's no shortage of goodwill and commitment," Ponsetto said. "Some of it comes from a desire to make the world a better place, and a lot of it is driven by deep faith experience. The students want to put this into something concrete, and they find themselves doing something with children or the elderly. It's a tremendous part of the Boston College culture."

Boston College Neighborhood Center Assistant Director Richard "Moe" Maloney, who helps to coordinate many of the local service activities, said, "I don't think any one is aware of all that these kids do. These kids are the University's greatest ambassadors. I see it every day."

-Reid Oslin

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