raffle for BU contributors
Student’s childhood rescue just one of many United Way success stories
Home was no sanctuary when Jacqueline Baker was growing up. Her father,
a recovering alcoholic, was often in detox. Her mother battled a heroin
addiction. Both missed her First Communion and high school graduation,
and it was Baker who tucked her younger sisters into bed at night, checked
their homework, and made sure they looked presentable each morning.
From an early age, Baker has possessed a healthy instinct for self-preservation.
She escaped from her troubles at Dorchester’s Little House, a community
center that is part of Dorchester Federated Neighborhood Houses and funded
by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay (UWMB). The day-care, after-school,
and teen programs at Little House offered Baker the guidance she lacked
at home and a haven from the drugs plaguing her neighborhood. She also
attended cooking and gym classes and learned to swim, and when she was
15, the center took her on her first ski trip.
All of these activities, and the caring staff, helped Baker stick with
her goal of attending college after graduating from Boston Latin School,
one of the city’s prestigious exam schools.
“Little House gave me a normal childhood,” she says. “A
lot of times the counselors didn’t know what was going on at home
because I just kept my problems to myself. But this was a place I could
go to be a kid. I knew that if I needed anything they would always be
there for me.”
Today Baker (CAS’04) attends BU through its Boston Scholars Program,
which provides her with full tuition for four years. She is majoring in
sociology with a double minor in history and Spanish. Last January she
received United Way’s 2001 Courage Award, which is bestowed each
year on an individual or family who triumphs over adversity with the help
of a UWMB-affiliated agency.
Baker is one of millions of people who benefit from the United Way through
its support of more than 200 human service organizations in eastern Massachusetts.
United Way funds go toward helping disadvantaged children, teenagers,
families, elders, the disabled, victims of domestic violence, and those
living with AIDS and cancer.
On October 3, BU kicked off its annual United Way campaign, the largest
the University undertakes for charity, with the goal of raising $185,000
from faculty and staff by November 15. Last year the BU community contributed
a record $185,639 to the United Way.
All employees have received a pledge card in the mail. An accompanying
pamphlet lists the agencies and programs for which donors can earmark
their contributions. Employees also can give to a group that is not affiliated
with the United Way, as long as it is a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization
but is not a school, hospital, or place of worship.
The most useful contributions, however, are the ones that go into the
United Way’s Community Fund, according to Marvin Cook, BU vice president
of planning, budgeting, and information and the University’s United
Way campaign manager. Each year, United Way volunteers thoroughly evaluate
all its affiliated charities to decide how much money each one should
receive, and a lot of this aid is drawn from the pooled fund.
BU employees who contribute $75 or more ($1.45 a week) will be eligible
to win incentive prizes, which will be raffled off at drawings every Friday
from October 18 through November 15 and at the University holiday party
in December. The grand prize is a travel package for two to any location
in the contiguous United States, compliments of Garber Travel. Other prizes
include a Visor handheld computer, donated by University Computers, a
pair of tickets to each night of the 2003 Beanpot Tournament, a $200 gift
certificate to Barnes & Noble, a dinner cruise for two aboard the
Spirit of Boston, and four first-balcony tickets to the BU Night at the
Pops in May, which comes with four tickets to the annual all-University
buffet celebration preceding the concert.
Baker is one of the the most eloquent advocates for the United Way. She
recently spoke at two of its fundraising events, telling hundreds of Boston-area
women’s business leaders and venture capitalists about her troubled
home life and her 16 years of involvement with Little House. Last November
she made another presentation, at the United Way’s national Summit
on Women in Philanthropy in Washington, D.C.
“Obviously it’s not easy getting up there and telling my story,”
Baker says of her candid speeches to hundreds of people, “but when
I see how much of an impact United Way has on kids’ lives, it’s
Little House fundraising campaigns have also benefited from Baker’s
involvement: she helped to raise $14,000 to buy the center a new van.
She has volunteered there as a counselor since high school, when she participated
in an antitobacco peer education program, and each year she goes back
to supervise children during the BU winter recess.
Receiving the Courage Award last January pleased Baker, who vows to be
the first member of her family to graduate from college. But the words
of her youngest sister, seven-year-old Paula, were even more gratifying.
“My little sister told me she wants to go to college just like me,”
Baker says, “and that is the greatest honor I have ever received.”
For more information on giving to the United Way, call 617-358-UWAY,
or visit www.uwmb.org.