Prayer And Action

Religion inspires Community Service Award winner Strain

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

"I think it is essential to pray, but it is more important to put those prayers into action," said Summer School administrative assistant Elizabeth Strain, and that action has earned the long-time Boston College employee the 1996 Community Service Award.

"She's the type of person people gravitate towards," said Community Affairs Director Jean McKeigue. "She is always as warm and responsive as she can be and goes out of her way to help people. Betty is a counselor and friend to everybody, so this award is very fitting."

A Boston College employee for 44 years, Strain has been a long-time volunteer for local churches, religious and community service organizations. She credits her religious beliefs with encouraging her to lift people's spirits and brighten their days.

"I feel I have been blessed with the ability to go out and help others," she said, "so how can I not?"

Strain was selected for the award by a committee chaired by University Historian Charles Donovan, SJ, who as dean of the School of Education was her supervisor when she first joined Boston College as a secretary in 1952. Since then she has held various positions at Boston College, including registrar coordinator in SOE and assistant University registrar. She has worked at the Summer School since 1981.

Elizabeth Strain
Throughout her career, Strain has counseled many students and colleagues through difficult times, according to her associates. As director of the Boston College Experience - a six-week academic enrichment summer program for students entering their senior year of high school - since 1984, they noted, she has served as mentor and friend to numerous prospective students.

"She is one of those special people who help create an atmosphere that makes it a genuine community and not merely a work place," said Senior Development Officer James McGahay.

A Eucharistic minister and lector, Strain attends Mass and does readings in St. Mary's Chapel five mornings a week, teaches every Sunday morning at the Infant Jesus Parish in Chestnut Hill and then visits eight home-bound parishioners to deliver communion and offer companionship. During the year, she knits baby blankets for the Christ Child Society in Cambridge, which distributes them to low-income new mothers.

Strain has earned many plaudits for her community service. Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society, made her an honorary member in 1978, and in 1991 she was one of 11 employees, students and alumni to receive a Companion of Justice Award from University President J. Donald Monan, SJ, in commemoration of the Ignatian Year.

In the citation accompanying the award, Fr. Monan said Strain "inspired colleagues and associates by your unfailing response to the call to love and serve the Lord in everyone and everything. Your caring, supportive service to students, rendered with cheerfulness, consideration and a warm, welcoming manner, has earned the enduring respect and affection of a host of Boston College graduates and added luster to the hallmark of Jesuit education."

Strain said her latest award will bolster her devotion to serve Boston College and other communities.

"I was honored to be even nominated and hope I can continue to help others for a long time," she said.

The award will be presented at the President's Annual Recognition Dinner on Tuesday, May 28 in the Lower Campus Dining Hall Heights Room.

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