Two years ago, Maura, an honor roll student and star athlete at Althoff Catholic High School, was lost and happened upon the Don Bosco Children’s Center. Intrigued, she walked into the center and learned that their mission was to care for neglected and abused children. Maura, who had worked with children in a variety of capacities, asked if she could volunteer there. The staff was a little surprised, and replied that no one had ever volunteered there before but that they would welcome a qualified volunteer.
Maura soon became the first volunteer at the Don Bosco Children’s center and has worked at the center ever since. There after, the Diocese of Belleville instituted a formal volunteer program at the Don Bosco Children’s center as a direct result of Maura’s efforts. There are now over 20 young persons volunteering at the center as a consequence of Maura’s first efforts there and her leadership.
However, the remarkable thing about Maura’s decision to volunteer at the Don Bosco center is how un-remarkable it is for Maura. Maura is a young practicing Catholic who seeks to live out the faith she has learned form her parents. Maura’s way of life has as its consistent theme respect for all human life. This respect for human life is what has lead her to help care for the abused children at the Don Bosco Children’s center and her many other charitable activities.
At the Don Bosco Children’s center Maura helps the children in a variety of ways through tutoring them in reading, coaching them in Athletics and simply being a friend to those most in need of love. Maura’s influence over the lives of the children she know, both at the Don Bosco Children’s center and elsewhere, is profound. Recently, she saw a young boy that she had worked with for years ago when she was a freshman and a camp counselor, the boy told Maura that he would never forget her.
On another occasion, Maura came across information that the Smith Lake Elementary School in New Mexico, far away form her home in the mid-west, was in desperate need of school books. This school, located on a Native American reservation, had fewer than ten books for each classroom. Maura, on her own initiative, organized a book drive for the school, collected over 2,000 books and then obtained a donation of over $300 form local businesses to ship the books to New Mexico. Maura did all this for people that she has never seen, but whose urgent need came to her attention.
Maura’s service to the community has inspired not only her sister Margaret but her other classmates to devote their time and effort to the service of others. In an era defined by selfishness, Maura is a selfless leader who leads by the hard sweat of service while remaining a well rounded young adult. In fact, it is hard to convince Maura to talk about her service to others; she simply takes that service as something required of all of us as a normal part of our lives.
In addition to the Don Bosco Children’s center, she has found time to regularly volunteer at the Belleville Area Humane society, the Red Cross, her Parish and as a Camp Counselor at the St Louis Zoo where she now works to save money for college. Considering that Maura is a honors student and an athlete with letters in both Varsity track and cross country, her consistent commitment to those in need is all the more remarkable.