By Ginger DeShaney
“I’m not even really a volunteer,” Lauretta Brennan said.
But many people in South Boston beg to differ.
Dawn Marie Gullage, one of four people who nominated Lauretta for South Boston Online’s new feature, Volunteer Spotlight, said Lauretta is worthy of the recognition. “She is a single mother who works hard to raise her son, yet is always giving back to the community,” she said.
In Beth Nagle’s nomination, she said, “Lauretta Brennan is always giving and helping out any way she can!”
According to nominator Melissa Mcauliffe, “Lauretta Brennan is amazingly kind and always going out of her way for the people of Southie.”
And Deborah Omalley concurred that Lauretta is always helping someone out.
Even though Lauretta is not an “event type” volunteer, she helps the people she meets, her friends, family … anybody. “I’m more like a connecting people with resources kind of person.”
Which to all of us is volunteering!
Lauretta’s greatest trait is listening.
“I try to be positive to all my people, my friends. I don’t have money to give, but I can listen,” she said. “Whatever I can do I will do.”
Lauretta and her son, Francis, live in Old Colony, which is in the process of being redeveloped, leading to a lot of stressed-out people, she said, “so I try to help them.
“I listen to them. People just need to be heard. When I’m listening to them I can connect them with resources that I know about.
“Maybe they need a Julie’s [Family Learning Program], maybe they need a detox … bringing people to detox,” she said. “That’s a huge part of my life, drugs and alcohol, because I lost a lot of people to drugs and alcohol,” including her twin and another brother.
Lauretta is the employment specialist at the Gavin Foundation, which offers support services to families impacted by drug abuse. She helps her clients find employment and get IDs, she runs groups on working, she helps secure clothes, boots, and tools for her clients, and more.
She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Julie’s. “I’m the voice that is a program participant,” she said. “I tell the board how it feels to be a Julie’s client.”
Lauretta and Francis, 15, started in the Julie’s program when Francis was 3 months old. “We both went through it together,” she said. At that time, the women in the program went upstairs to do their work and the children were downstairs.
Through Julie’s, Lauretta learned about budgeting, family literacy, parenting skills, life skills, advocacy, structure, and so much more.
She went on to Bunker Hill Community College to get her associate degree.
Lauretta knows a lot of people: from her job, from Julie’s, from walking her dog, Penny, a feisty 4-year-old Yorkie, and from living in Southie all her life. And because she and her son have orange hair, they really stand out, she joked.
Lauretta, 44, is an amazing role model for her son: “He’s compassionate. Life is difficult for us sometimes. We’re not perfect,” she said, but they do what they can.
Lauretta reaches out to people for herself, as well. “I need to take care of my well-being, too,” she said.
Francis agrees. “I feel like she helps a lot. She does a lot for other people, to where she forgets about her own life,” he said.
“She’s always doing something for other people that sometimes it’s hard for me to talk to her. I can’t talk to her until 8 at night sometimes because she’ll be on the phone helping other people.”
“It’s sincere,” Lauretta said. “I answer my phone and I’ll listen.”
Francis, who attends Excel High School and works at the Condon, said his mom’s phone calls aren’t like 15 or 30 minutes. They last hours “because she cares a lot.
“I feel like she definitely deserves everything that’s coming to her in the best way possible,” he said, noting that Lauretta being featured in South Boston Online is very warranted.
“She really is the best,” Francis said. “I’ve been looking at her as a role model for all my life. She’s been there for me for everything.”
In her role with the Gavin Foundation, Lauretta is always looking for job opportunities for her clients, so if anyone has any openings, get in touch with Lauretta at the Gavin Foundation. “We would love to partner,” she said.