Heart of Gold

Chadwick's volunteer work earns him Community Service Award

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

His job title summons up images of green eye-shades and flinty reserve, yet for a hospital ward full of sick children every Thursday night, Internal Audit Director William Chadwick is a beacon of joy.

For more than 10 years, Chadwick has made weekly visits to read and play cards with seriously ill youngsters in the cystic fibrosis ward at Boston's Children's Hospital.

"Even auditors have hearts," said Chadwick, whose efforts on behalf of hospitalized children and their families have earned him the 1998 Boston College Community Service Award.

Chadwick, who has worked at Boston College for nearly 12 years, said he admires the "indomitable spirit and optimism" of the young patients he visits with his fellow volunteers.

"We talk to the kids, we play cards and games, and sometimes we'll fill in for the parents to give them a break to get something to eat," said Chadwick.

"It can be difficult, but most of it is very upbeat. The nurses are great and I've formed some wonderful relationships with children and their parents.

"I've always felt it is important to put something back, to return the goodwill in my life to people who are less fortunate."

Internal Audit Director William Chadwick. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Cystic fibrosis is an incurable inherited disorder, affecting mainly the lungs and the digestive system. Half of those with cystic fibrosis die before the age of 30.

Chadwick has attended many funerals of children he befriended at the hospital. "It's always a painful experience, but it's necessary for closure after losing the friendship of a child.

"The first child I became close to who passed away was 11. It was a very difficult situation - if I go into it, there will be tears all over the place. You don't forget."

Each year his colleagues at More Hall collaborate on a Bake Off and resulting cookbook dedicated to a child who has passed away at Children's Hospital in the previous year.

Sales of the $6 cookbook over the past nine years have raised $7,300 for magic shows, music and toys to entertain young patients at the hospital.

Risk Management Director Michael Prinn nominated Chadwick for the Community Service Award, citing his colleague as "a special person who exemplifies the Jesuit ideals of community involvement.

"This type of devotion requires a very special type of person, one who has an innate sensitivity to young children in pain," Prinn wrote. "His fellow volunteers, the staff at the hospital, the children and their families all respect, like and admire Bill, and look forward to Thursday nights when he comes to their unit."

Chadwick said he doesn't deserve undue praise. "It's natural for someone to want to do something for others," he said. "What I'm doing is not that unusual. Many people do it in different ways."

He and his wife, Donna, a music therapist, live in Westford with two golden retrievers, several cats and a house rabbit. Their love of animals has led them to become vegetarians, he said, and to be active in a Barre, Mass., humane shelter as well as in a volunteer network that rescues and finds homes for abandoned golden retrievers.

An auditor who loves dogs and kids? The green eye-shade mentality "is just the opposite of my personality," said Chadwick. "I enjoy doing something nice without any motivation of reward, just for the simple sake of giving of one's self."

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