Lowell woman recognized for volunteer workBy KATIE LANNAN , Associated Press
Apr. 7, 2013 12:21 AM ET
LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — When she found out she was a nominee for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley's Volunteer of the Year, Ginger Pearson was expecting the suspense of a Hollywood awards show.
"I thought it was going to be like the Grammys or the Oscars, and you'd find out when you got there," Pearson said. "But they called me Friday and asked me if I'd accept the award. I was very flattered."
Pearson, UMass Lowell's director of advancement administration, was one of two Massachusetts women honored as volunteers of the year at the United Way Community Celebration last month, along with Susan Esper of the financial firm Deloitte.
"This event is a chance to celebrate those who go above and beyond, sharing their time, resources and generous spirit to make their community a better place for all of us," said Michael Durkin, president and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley. "I'm so proud to be a part of this community."
Pearson was recognized for her seven years of community service with the United Way and as co-chair of the Summer Experiences in Greater Lowell initiative.
In addition to providing enrichment and recreational activities, Summer Experiences of Greater Lowell raised $100,000 last year, which it distributed to local organizations, including branches of the Boys & Girls Club, the Greater Lowell Family YMCA, Light of Cambodian Children and Community Teamwork Inc.
The program's hallmark fundraiser is an annual event at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsboro, featuring speeches from its young participants, Pearson said.
"It's quite amazing what some of these kids have gone through, and it's very uplifting and inspiring to hear the stories of the challenges they've overcome," she said.
She also sits on several boards around the Merrimack Valley, including the Lowell Association for the Blind, the Women Working Wonders Fund and the Brooks School in North Andover, where she went to high school.
Volunteerism, Pearson said, is a habit instilled in her by her parents, Lowell District Court Judge Barbara Pearson and John Pearson, a former banking executive.
"My parents are extremely philanthropic and have volunteered all their lives, so growing up it was just something you did," she said. "You joined different committees and different boards, and it's just what you did. You just give back."
Pearson hopes to pass that spirit onto her 2 1/2-year-old daughter Bailey, whom she plans to take along with her to food banks and other charitable efforts in the future.
Though she's looking to the future, Pearson credits Lowell's older generation of philanthropists, who she believes do not receive enough recognition.
"They've kept the city alive," she said. "The next generation of people really needs to step up. They've put in their time and now it's time for the young professionals to really take the reins and learn from them."