The series features residents who have made SB home for more than thirty years or fewer than three by alternating weeks.)
South Boston non-profit leader and engaged community member, Bob Monahan, has made South Boston home for all of his sixty-nine years. He has never stopped appreciating and working toward better lives for the families in a familiar and changing landscape. It is here that his values and aspirations developed, and his contributions and professional life shaped. At every bend, he credits his late mother, Marion Monahan.
“Growing up as one of five brothers, we played sports, went to see whatever was happening in the city, played in the streets. What really mattered though were the examples of people giving back, and that hasn’t changed,” he said.
“My mother believed in education and college was the goal. She also embodied the Golden Rule and didn’t have a prejudiced bone in her body. She loved history and books and the beach. She was also an advocate. When the rink wasn’t open on time, she walked with a group of other mothers to the State House and it didn’t happen again,” he said.
Stories of his mother’s values, attitudes and abilities deepen what “homemaker” means, and provided a platform for all the good that was to follow in his life. When he says, “we had it all,” it seems likely that it was the optimism and vigor with which she lived. His father was a sportswriter, and the family’s home was a three story that was configured in different ways to suit three generations.
Perhaps because of the neighborhood families, or his own, or just a natural curiosity and wish to help, Bob knew he wanted to work with families. After Gate of Heaven and BC High, he applied only to Harvard and BC and went to Harvard as a Psychology and Social Relations major. He commuted, except his senior year, from South Boston and worked at various jobs including Howard Johnson’s to help pay his way. His education may have been across the river, but his heart and mind were focused on South Boston.
He went on to work with and was inspired by the work of Sisters Louise Kearns, Carol Hood, and others. “They were models of leadership, period,” he said. With them he worked at “Fun in the Sun” and the rest is history. Following graduation, his life in non-profit community organizations devoted to families and children impressively grew. Program Director at the Tynan Community Center to the SB Boys and Girls Club Director to Executive Director of Julie’s Family Learning to name a few.
“I was the first person from the community at the Boys and Girls Club and it was a job I loved. We had autonomy to do things that mattered, and even started a theatre group with some talented people in the recovery community and beyond. It was a wonderful, important time,” he said.
He was promoted every place he worked, eventually retiring as the Executive Director of Julie’s Family Learning. Such a strong legacy doesn’t typically end with pure leisure, though anyone would wish that for this man. Ask him about retirement and he responds, “when does it start?’ That said, he has come to devote time to his personal life, improved blood pleasure, and the joy of his two sons, Alex, living in Reading, MA, and Patrick in LA.
Bob Monahan doesn’t romanticize the past or future. He knows well the issues but strikes a philosophy of hopefulness.
“The recovery community has always existed here, along with the problems, and it is still the case. There is also still a value in giving back and support when someone has a need. My worry is about families being able to afford stay here,” he said.
There are few who have been as continually involved in the non-profit world of South Boston as Bob Monahan, and though traveling more, his home base is where it began, and that has benefitted enumerable families who have known the efforts of someone who loves and knows a community. Bob Monahan has woven the concept of giving back through a deep career and continued service.
(Please contact Carol Masshardt at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of someone who might like to be profiled.)