By Seth Daniel
From her home on Winthrop Street, Michelle Duane has made a life out of volunteering for numerous organizations, and now she is being hailed by Rosie’s Place – a women’s homeless shelter in the South End – as an ambassador volunteer for the organization.
After retiring four years ago from her job at The Learning Project in the Back Bay, Duane found she had some time on her hands, and given her life-long commitment to volunteerism, she wasn’t about to use her time frivolously.
“My daughter was involved with women’s issues and especially those issues around battered women,” she said. “When I retired four years ago, I wanted to get involved in another organization and do some volunteer work. So, I got more involved in Rosie’s Place…When I retired, I had daytime hours available and that allowed me to volunteer at Rosie’s. I was an events coordinator at The Learning Project, so I knew a little bit about mailings, and coordination, and they asked me to help and so I also started working in the office. So, now, whatever I can do to help them, I say ‘yes.’ I am now an ambassador for them and I speak to small groups about Rosie’s and the opportunities there.”
Michelle and her husband, attorney Jim Duane, moved to Charlestown about 15 years ago on Winthrop Street just below the Training Field. They raised their three children first at Charles River Park, and later at their Charlestown home. Their children, James, David and Caitlin, are all now adults and finding successful careers.
Born in Haiti and moving to New York City at the age of 11, Duane met her husband in New York and they moved to Boston for him to attend law school. Of course, they fell in love with the City and never left.
In retirement, Duane said Rosie’s Place has been something she feels very strongly about.
“Rosie’s has become a huge part for my life and a lot of that has to do with the fact that government isn’t helping people as much and with the supports of a place like Rosie’s,” she said. “Rosie’s always needs volunteers. There’s never enough. It’s five hours out of my day if I’m serving in the dining room and they are so grateful for it. They don’t get government funding so it’s all fundraising and volunteer efforts.”
Rosie’s Place is honoring volunteers and ambassadors to the organization this month, noting that April is Volunteer Month. They indicated that Duane has been a wonderful volunteer for the organization and they hope to get more like her to help the effort.
Duane has also been a life-long Girl Scout volunteer, and served on the Board of the Friends of City Square for many years.
She has logged close to 200 hours of volunteer service in these many capacities, and at age 65, she has no intention of slowing down.
“My husband and I have always been volunteers,” she said. “I think it’s important to give back a little as much as you can.”