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BGCL Honors Colleen Harrington with Paul Cronin Award

January 28, 2016

Colleen Harrington, who has volunteered for eight years at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, has been honored with the 2016 Paul Cronin Award. The award, named for the late U.S. Congressman Paul Cronin, is presented annually to a club volunteer who goes above and beyond in using education as a tool for kids to fulfill their potential.

The ceremony took place at the club's annual dinner on January 27 for mentors and their youth protégés in recognition of January as National Mentoring Month. The keynote speaker was Christopher Sullivan, the director of religious and spiritual life at Central Catholic High School who has been involved with the club's Academic Basketball Awareness camp since 1983.

"We congratulate Colleen on this well-deserved recognition," said Markus Fischer, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. "We're very appreciative of her commitment to changing kids' lives."

In 2008, Harrington began looking for summer volunteer opportunities for her daughter, Meghan, who was home for the summer. After learning about the club's mission, Harrington took the initiative to get involved herself.

Harrington, who said she "knew the club was a special place from the second I walked in the door," volunteered in the computer clubhouse for a year before becoming a tutor in the education center. She volunteers on Thursdays, with each shift typically beginning with a hug of appreciation from Education Director Karen Kravchuk.

In addition to finding the experience rewarding, Harrington says there are many touching as well as funny moments. "At least one kid every year asks what grade I'm in," she said with a laugh. "Working with the children is so much fun. And after figuring out all that math, I'm a little bit smarter!"

Harrington enjoys the camaraderie with her fellow volunteers as well as Kravchuk, a former teacher in the Lawrence Public Schools whom Harrington calls "irreplaceable" due to the respect she earns from students for her loving but firm manner.

"They want to please her, and she makes a big deal out of the report cards and school awards that they bring in to show her - but she doesn't let anything slide either," Harrington said. "Karen makes us all feel welcome and needed, and that's why so many kids choose to be in the education center rather than going downstairs to play."

Harrington and her husband, Daniel, who are owners of RH Northrop Corporation in North Reading, have also donated generously to the club's education center through their company, as well as Daniel's former role as a board member of the Andover High School Football Booster Club. She said it is gratifying to know that each donation, as is the case with each volunteer hour, is so valued.

"Being selected for the Paul Cronin Award is very meaningful, but I don't really need one because I already feel so appreciated," Harrington said. "I look forward to coming to the club every week because I love it so much."

For more information about volunteer and mentoring opportunities, contact Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Bryant at 978-683-2747, ext. 117 or sbryant@lawrencebgc.com.

 

Did You Know?

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence attend professional sports games throughout the year thanks to the generosity of individuals and corporations in the community.