Bob Monahan is a born and brought up South Bostonian, who is concluding his 47th consecutive year of community service. He’s a family man, the oldest of five brothers – Bob himself, Kevin, Sean, Danny, and Terry. He recalls growing up, going to summer camps in his pre-teens, and coaching some of South Boston’s many sports teams; he was influenced by residents who themselves demonstrated strong community spirit. Bob earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard in Psychology and Social Relations; he said, “I really wanted to know what I wanted to do.” The answer to that lay in giving back to the community, including his family. “I knew this in my soul”, he stated.
A brief summary demonstrates what Bob meant by “giving back to his community”. Beginning in the 1970s, Bob spent several years at the Tynan Community Center as its Program Director, and was its Coordinator in the early 1980s. After that, he became the Director of the local South Boston Boys Club (now our Boys & Girls club). He went to the Club’s downtown office as Director of Operations for the Clubs in Chelsea, Roxbury, Charlestown, and here. In 1989, Bob became Director of Strategic Partnerships.
In 2000, Bob began serving on the Advisory Committee of “A Home for Julie’s”. At a Julie’s benefit, then Mayor Menino dramatically announced, “I’ve found a home for Julie’s”. Menino was referring to the White building on Dorchester Street that had once been the Community Health Center’s headquarters and clinic. Converting this into a family center offering education and supportive services for Julie’s required major funding and fundraising – well over $2 million in total. The renovation was completed in September, 2004; Bob transitioned into Julie’s Family Learning Program as its Executive Director. The next 17 years formed the major chapter in Bob’s professional community life.
We asked Bob for an example or two of community efforts he took special pride in. He responded that behavior at the Annual St. Patrick’s Parade got out of control in the 2002 Parade – the one after 9-11, when police and firefighter heroes from other parts of the U.S. were invited to march. Bob served on an ad hoc committee named SoBAD (South Boston Against Drinking and Drugs) that eventually got the Parade back to being mostly a family event. Many of the prior Parade participants were cordially “dis-invited”. He also mentioned taking part in “Youth Connects”, a community policing pilot program that worked toward solving young peoples’ problems with social remedies instead of enforcement.
Inevitably, our interview turned to Bob’s plans for the future. He’s still cheerfully vigorous; he wants to continue working and contributing to our community. But first, he’s going to take a few months to himself in the coming New Year. Bob mentioned he has “a stack of books” waiting to be read – mainly documentaries and other non-fiction works. And unlike many retirees, he doesn’t plan to relocate: Bob will stay on East Seventh while he looks around to see what’s available. In his own words, Bob states, “I’m here – I plan to work. I’m wide open to the future.”
At the end of our interview, Bob asked that South Boston Online mention Julie’s gala Reception in Higginson Hall on Huntington Avenue. The Reception will be immediately followed with a delightful Holiday Concert, performed by the world-famous Boston Pops and conducted by Keith Lockhart in Symphony Hall. The Reception takes place on Thursday evening, December 16, at 6 p.m.; the Concert begins afterward at 8 p.m.
All in all, this will be quite an evening. We encourage everyone to attend. For more information, visit their website at www.JuliesFamily.org. Also, you may contact Julie’s new Executive Director Joanne Kelly at 617-269-6663, ext.20, or at JKelly@JuliesFamily.org.
In the meantime, best wishes to Bob Monahan – he has been Julie’s (and South Boston’s) long-term, homegrown “Angel”. Farewell and Godspeed to you, Bob.