Paying it Forward
Community volunteering called incredibly rewarding
by Carol Cujec

MAUREEN PARTYNSKI ’82, third from the left, organized a group of USD alums in Illinois to paint, renovate and decorate a room at Chicago’s Boys & Girls Club in Torero colors.

When the Enron scandal hit the papers in 2001, Maureen (Gavron) Partynski ‘82, CEO of Hemlock Federal Bank in suburban Chicago, wondered, “Where did these people go to college?”

Partynski credits USD for helping solidify her own core values. She recalls, in particular, a senior retreat in the mountains of Julian, where she and her classmates felt inspired to build a better world. “I’ve always had a sense of spirituality,” she says. “But it certainly grew in me at USD, and I was motivated to reach out to others.” Over the years, she has donated her time and money to USD, as well as to charitable organizations in her community.

As a business leader, Partynski created a charitable foundation, which funded a new science lab at a local Catholic elementary school, grants for disabled children to attend summer camp and playground equipment for inner city kids. Her foundation even donated an entire bank building to become a daycare for homeless children.

Recently retired, Partynski now calls herself a “professional volunteer.” As president of USD’s Illinois alumni chapter, which she helped revitalize in the past two years, and member of the National Alumni Board, she regularly organizes alumni events.

Responding to the Alumni Association’s call for a “Day of Service,” on Nov. 4, Partynski put together an event with about 25 volunteers from the Chicago chapter. In conjunction with Victor Ramos ’91, who works at the Boys & Girls Club, the alums got together to paint and renovate a room at the inner city club. The 47×47 room was previously not being used by the Boys & Girls Club, which had neither the money nor the resources to renovate it. The group painted the room (in USD blue and white, no less) and wrote “USD” with their handprints. Says Partynski, “Instead of just getting together for pizza, we decided to reach out to the community. It was incredibly rewarding.”

Partynski herself donated the furniture, which helped transform the once abandoned space into a first-rate teen center, complete with a TV, DVD player, Nintendo Gamecube, karaoke machine, ping-pong table, board games and a reading nook. They also put up a college board to inspire the kids about their future.

David Stephens, associate director of alumni relations, calls Partynski a living example of USD’s commitment to service. “She totally understands the alumni volunteer perspective and leads by example.”

As a mother of two teenagers, Partynski recognizes the importance of entering adulthood with solid values. “That’s why I like to affiliate myself with USD. I’m still inspired by what I learned there,” she says. “I don’t think every school has that effect.”