Peter Slavin, MD, President of Mass General Hospital, presented Cotting alumna Mary Fitzgerald, Class of 1976, with the Jessie Harding Award for contributing to volunteerism in a significant and special way on April 27, 2016. A volunteer at MGH since 2010 who has given 1,300 hours to helping at the central volunteer desk, Mary has demonstrated an excellent attendance record, a willingness to give extra effort to duties and responsibilities, and exhibited compassion and caring when working with patients, staff and visitors.
Mary responded to Dr. Slavin with appreciation and her characteristic wit. She teased him, “Although you are in the Oval Office here at MGH, where there’s lots of energy, we in the volunteer office are where the real energy of the place is.” Laughing, Dr. Slavin agreed with her.
Mary’s supervisor, Jackie Nolan, pictured at right, says, “Mary embodies the essence of an MGH volunteer by her trustworthy and professional character. She goes above and beyond what is expected of her and is always available when we need her to help. Her favorite saying is, ‘I can get them to yes’.”
Milton Calderon, who also works with Mary, says, “Whenever she is in the office, we all say: “All right, Mary is here! Things will be ok today!”
Wonderful as this recent achievement is, this is not the first time that Mary Fitz has been acknowledged for her leadership. As a sophomore at the Industrial School for Crippled Children in Boston, Mary Fitzgerald decided she did not want her senior class ring to include the word “crippled.” She wrote up a petition, which she circulated throughout the school for over a year, requesting that the Board of Trustees officially change the name of the school.
Eventually, she found herself addressing the formidable Charles Cotting and the Board of Trustees to make her request. After some discussion, the trustees agreed with her and the name was changed.
In recent years, Mary has made a point of meeting with current Cotting students in Lexington. One year she held a tea for the senior class; another year she shared with students her experiences of moving on after Cotting. She has made a point of encouraging fellow alumni to get involved as well, and to give back in whatever way they can to the school that got them started.
Her accomplishments as a volunteer and leader make us proud to call her a Cotting alumna. Go Falcons!