Photography by Deborah McCarthy
Bob Monahan is an altruistic inspiration. His kind spirit, gentle nature and dedication to the families of South Boston makes him perfectly suited for his job as Director of Operations of Julie’s Family Learning Program. He is helping improve our community by making it stronger, healthier and more vibrant, one family at a time. Women and their children come to Julie’s to transform their lives. Typically living in unstable, unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous situations, these strong women come to Julie’s to learn how create a new and improved life for themselves. “Our courageous mothers are determined to learn how to chart their own destiny and by extension create a healthy, nurturing home environment for their own continued growth and for their children, ” says Monahan. As the DOO, Bob manages Julie’s financial, fundraising, human resources, and facility tasks and responsibilities. He helps make Julie’s thrive.
Just the facts:
- Bob grew up on East Seventh Street with 4 brothers Kevin, Sean, Danny and Terry.
- Graduated from Boston College High School
- Graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Psychology and Social Relations
- Served as Program Director and Director of the Tynan Community Center 1976-1983
- In 1983 became Director of the South Boston Boys & Girls Club (BGCB) 1983-
- Served as BGCB’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships 1989-2004
- Served as the Co-President along with Sr. Mary Adele Robinson of the South Boston Association of Non Profits
- Currently is the President of the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation.
- Best part about living in South Boston: The practice of giving back, taking care of our own and strong sense of community. We have hundreds of volunteer coaches; non-profit board members; non-profit and neighborhood group associations focused on keeping our community vibrant, safe and informed; “times” to support individuals and families in need…
- We also have an abundance of resources and opportunities to be engaged and active including our (now clean) beaches, Castle Island, parks and playing fields…and proximity to downtown and the waterfront.
- Favorite spot in Southie: L Street Bathhouse…indoor and outdoor spaces to work out, take a daily dip and steel oneself up for the Annual L Street Brownie Polar Plunge…my favorite event of the year. I also have very fond memories spending many hours at the old boys “L” with my brothers Kevin, Sean, Danny and Terry.
How long have you been working for Julie’s?
I have been connected to Julie’s since it was founded in 1974 by Sr. Louise Kearns, SND, and Sr. Jean Sullivan, SND. Just a few years prior to that Sr. Louise, Sr. Carol Hood, Sr. Mary Mulligan and other Sisters of Notre Dame founded the “Fun-In-The-Sun” summer program at the then D Street and Old Colony Housing Projects. Sr. Louise hired me, for $50 a week, as a summer camp counselor and assigned me to the Old Colony Housing Project (now Development) site. In 1983 I was hired as the Director of the South Boston Boys & Girls Club (BGCB). Shortly after that Julie’s became a program of BGCB. Ten years ago, as BGCB’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, I teamed up with Sr. Louise and Sr. Jean and our current Board Chair, Theresa Finn Dever, to establish Julie’s as an independent non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization with our own tax exempt status. We, thanks to Mayor Thomas Menino, found our first-ever permanent home at the now totally renovated George Robert White Family Development Center at 133 Dorchester Street (formerly the South Boston Community Health Center.
Can you tell us a success story?
There are hundreds. Here is just one that reached us via our new Facebook page.
Dianne came to Julie’s over 30 years ago after the loss of her oldest child at age 2.5 from complications due to cerebral palsy. Mother to two surviving children, married to an alcoholic, and struggling to cope with her loss, Dianne says “I came to Julie’s because I knew I wanted to make life better for my children than the life I had known but I didn’t know how to begin. The staff at Julie’s listened to me and supported me without judging me … Julie’s helped me develop the skills to survive and raise my family, and the self-confidence to believe that I could further my education, earn a living and be proud of myself.” Today Dianne is a certified, licensed child care professional. She keeps in touch with her alumnae group from 30 years ago and is proud to report that we have several nurses, health care providers, postal workers, and an iron worker who all started out here at Julie’s. Most, including Dianne, now own their own homes. Dianne’s children are thriving too; one Montessori graduate recently passed the exam and physical for the Boston Fire Department, one just graduated from High School, and one has just returned from a junior year trip to Paris! Dianne is a true example of Julie’s mission – she has broken the cycle of poverty and charted a new life for herself and her children.
How can people help that want to volunteer or donate?
First, we need to extend our deep gratitude to the many hundreds of individuals and families who have supported us since 1974. We have a list of volunteer and donation opportunities listed on our website, www.JuliesFamily.org. We also invite and encourage people who know us to forward our “Friendraising Event” notice on May 16th at Lincoln to their respective networks by linking onto our Facebook page at Julie’s Family Learning Program. The life blood of Julie’s, as with all community based non-profits, are individual donors who continue to support us and who reach out to others who are not familiar with Julie’s. Our event at Lincoln is our very first attempt to try to reach individuals who have yet to be introduced to the critically important work of Julie’s via social media outlets. For $25 in advance, attendees will get one free drink ticket, hors d’oeuvre and opportunities to meet neighbors, new friends and learn about the important work of Julie’s.
Julie’s Family Learning Program’s Friendraiser
425 West Broadway
Thursday, May 16th
6 – 9 pm