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BGCL Honors Samantha Berard with Paul Cronin Award

January 28, 2019

As a volunteer tutor for the past five years at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL), Samantha Berard has assisted youth members with homework and school projects, helped them study for tests, read with them and simply spent time being a good and caring listener.

Recently it was the club's turn to give back for her varied contributions in recognizing Berard with the 2019 Paul Cronin Award. Named for the late U.S. Congressman Paul Cronin, the honor 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 24 for mentors and their youth protégés in recognition of January as National Mentoring Month.

"These children are going to be our future," Berard said. "I consider myself one of the luckiest people because I'm able to give them my time."

"We congratulate Samantha on this well-deserved recognition," said BGCL Education Director Karen Kravchuk, noting that the education center depends on committed volunteers to support up to 250 children daily. "To foster any kind of success, our youth members need to know the adults who work with them respect them and are committed to their growth and development. Samantha's truly genuine interest comes through in the caring manner in which she interacts with each child. I have seen it firsthand, and it is magic!"

Berard, a junior designer at 3M in Methuen, was introduced to BGCL in 2014 when she joined her coworkers in volunteering at the annual 3M Summer Fun Fest, which kicks off the club's summer programming with face-painting, games, lunch and financial support. The longtime event was founded by now retired 3M employee Bill Conboy whose daughter, MaryKate, volunteered at BGCL several years ago through the University of Notre Dame Summer Service Learning Program.

In addition to giving her time every week, Berard's involvement has resulted in additional funds for BGCL. 3M makes a donation for every 25 hours of an employee's volunteer service, and the club received an additional financial gift when Berard recently received one of only 29 Volunteer of the Year awards among the company's 90,000 employees worldwide.

Berard, who initially volunteered at BGCL alongside her daughter Amanda, says she is passionate about helping the youth of Lawrence due to her own experiences growing up in poverty in the city. She remembers being hungry, and for a three-year period her family went without heat and electricity.

"We took cold showers and our clothes had icicles when we took them off the clothes line, but my mom was the most amazing person and she made life good. It was all about family and love, and that's how it feels at the club," Berard said. "I love that it's a safe place for kids where there's a meal every night and lots of people to help them learn, grow, get into college and become whatever they want to be. Being at the club is a blast, but it's also a privilege for all of us."

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

 

Did You Know?

Over 250 children daily participate in the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence homework room.