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  Friday, March 6, 2015
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Mary Elizabeth Duran Receives Award
By Rick Winterson

     The recipient of the inaugural Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award has been selected.  She’s Mary Elizabeth Duran, who was born in Old Colony, has a daughter Julia, attends Quincy College, and works at Bank of America on East Broadway.


     This is actually a tale of three South Boston families, Farrell, Nee, and Duran, whose lives became intertwined.

     The Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award will be formally presented to Mary Elizabeth Duran on Thursday evening, January 26, during the South Boston Collaborative’s Comedy Night at Florian Hall.  The award, which will be conferred annually from now on, is to be given to a single mother from South Boston, who demonstrates a “commitment to positive change”.

     Betty Ann Farrell was born in Old Colony, and after many turns of fate, met up again with Bob Farrell, who was born in the D Street Project and knew Betty as a teenager.  He says, “I immediately fell in love with her”.  They were married for 33 years, raising a family of four children, who gave them eight grandchildren.  Betty was active in community work, touching many lives in South Boston.  She served as a founding Board member of the South Boston Collaborative, which was formed in reaction to the suicides in South Boston late in the 90s.

     Three years ago, Betty contracted ovarian cancer.  Her “CA 125” test had come up strongly positive (our readers may wish to inquire about this test for themselves or their loved ones).  Ovarian cancer is extremely virulent.  Despite a brave battle, Betty died from it last August.  In her final months, she thought of others constantly.  The Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award in her memory was one result of her forethought and compassion.

     Kerry (Jones) Nee came from City Point.  She and her husband Brian have a son, Connor.  Kerry works for the City of Boston (the BRA) at the South Boston Resource Center with its Director, Anthony Gilardi.  The Resource Center aids job seekers in their search by helping with resumes, making contacts, and so on.

     In 1998, Kerry volunteered for the original Laboure Mentor program.  She became a mentor to a young, troubled 12-year-old named Mary Elizabeth Duran.  Elizabeth was born in Old Colony.  Through thick and thin, the two young women stuck together.  Kerry was there as Elizabeth matured, obtained her G.E.D., and gave birth to young Julia.  It wasn’t easy.  Julia was premature, and had to spend some time in the neonatal ICU.  But Julia is now a loud and healthy two-year-old, and Kerry is her Godmother.  Elizabeth and Kerry have gone beyond friendship – they’re like sisters.

     When Kerry heard of the Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award, she immediately wrote a letter to the Farrell family, who would make the final choice.  In the letter, Kerry described the efforts Elizabeth was making as a single mom, a professional employee, and a college student.  And Elizabeth got the Award.

     Elizabeth is a hard-working and ambitious woman.  For 30 hours a week, she serves as a teller at Bank of America’s East Broadway branch.  She likes the bank, and would consider moving up if an opening occurs.  Before reporting for work, she drops Julia at Julie’s Family Learning Center, where she herself had once taken courses.

     Two mornings a week, Elizabeth attends Quincy College.  This semester, she’s enrolled in Sociology and Creative Writing.  These are core courses required before declaring a major – Elizabeth thinks she will ultimately study to be an L.P.N.  Needless to say, she’s absolutely delighted and grateful to receive the $1,000 Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award.  She says, “I was thrilled – very happy!”

     On Thursday evening, January 26, at Florian Hall, all three families – Farrell, Nee, Duran – will gather to see Elizabeth receive the Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award.  Plan to join them.  True-to-life tales are the best.       

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Mary Elizabeth Duran and Kerry Nee, after hearing that Elizabeth would receive the inaugural Betty Ann Farrell Scholarship Award.