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WATCH: Grant for honoring community role model

Posted by Kathryn Eident  June 10, 2009 10:20 AM

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(from left to right) WATCH Executive Director Erica Schwarz, Crossroads Community Foundation Board of Trustees member Janet Pattillo and Brandeis University Professor Laura Goldin at the Woolsey Conover Award ceremony.

By Erica Schwarz
Guest Columnist

Waltham and all of MetroWest is rich with incredible community members; the kind of people who make you think: Where does she find the time? Where does he get that energy? I wonder if I can get a little more involved, the way she is!

Laura Goldin is one of those people. Brandeis University, where Laura is an Environmental Studies professor, and WATCH, where Laura engages her students in coordinating our tenant clinic, have long known of Laura’s energy and compassion. Now a wider audience is aware of Laura’s talents, thanks to her receipt of honorable mention in the Woolsey Conover Award, which resulted in a $1,000 grant to WATCH.

The Woolsey Conover Award is presented annually by the Crossroads Community Foundation to individuals who exemplify the spirit of philanthropy through their participation in their community. I nominated Laura because, as I noted in my application: “Laura Goldin constantly considers new, better and visionary ways to address social issues. She imagines powerful ways for organizations to collaborate, and takes action to implement ideas in responsible ways that ensure the right players are involved, all relevant factors are considered and the project is effective and sustainable. She spends countless hours ensuring the success of her projects. She is an encouraging, warm ball of energy whose excitement and passion for community are contagious.”

My nomination of Laura for this award was strengthened by an extensive range of volunteer efforts beyond her work with WATCH, which includes chairing a funding raising event for the YMCA, coordinating a food drive for Waltham agencies that serve the homeless, providing advice & advocacy support to families in Woburn and Wilmington who are facing environmental health hazards, bringing her dog to do therapy with seniors and youth at area nursing homes and group homes, conducting pro bono legal work for low income families, and actively supporting her Brandeis students in looking beyond the campus to discover meaningful and effective ways to get involved in the community. She does have a lot of energy!

You may read that list and think: Well, that’s not me. I’m busy. I’m overburdened. I’m tired! I could never be like that.

What I take from Laura’s example is that if you care, probably others do, too. And if you care enough, you can talk to those other folks, get them as excited or concerned as you are, and together, you can make great changes. That’s what we do at WATCH. Along the way, as you make changes with these other folks, you’ll gain the energy that comes when the work you do with others results in tangible gains. Along the way, you’ll also gain the inspiration that comes from meeting incredible people like Laura, who make your life and the wider community so much richer.

I will need another person to nominate for next year’s Woolsey Conover Award...Will it be you?!

Erica Schwarz is Executive Director of WATCH, a community development corporation located at 517 Moody Street in Waltham.

To learn more about WATCH and its Tenant Clinic that Brandeis Professor Laura Goldin helps coordinate with her students, visit watchcdc.org/housing.

To learn more about the Crossroads Community Foundation, visit ccfdn.org.

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