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Mary Cail '47: Award-Winning Volunteer

Written by: 
Deblina Chakraborty

In Good Company

Some may look at what Mary Cail ’47 does as good deeds, but she sees it as good fun. The Bentley alumna, a 2009 recipient of the Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts award, spends her days helping others in various ways, including offering rides to fellow senior citizens in her 1993 Chrysler.

“I enjoy it, because we have a lot of laughs,” says Cail. “It goes to show, you can have fun [volunteering].”

Cail has been hooked on service for decades, primarily through Friends in Service to Humanity (FISH) and the AARP chapter in her hometown of Melrose, Mass. For FISH, she ferries seniors to medical appointments, and sometimes to lunch or for shopping trips. A couple times a month, Cail takes phone duty, matching people who need rides with willing drivers. Her work for AARP includes everything from collecting food pantry staples to organizing clothing drives.

These efforts inspired a friend and fellow AARP member, Catherine Joyce, to nominate Cail for the Unsung Heroine honor. It’s a distinction bestowed by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, recognizing 100 women who have made “outstanding and selfless contributions” to their communities and groups.

“Mary is a kind, caring, pleasant woman,” Joyce wrote in the nomination letter. “She seems to have a smile on her face whenever I see her. She also gives hugs. She is always available to help others.”

Cail doesn’t dwell much on the recognition. “I thought it was wonderful . . . very nice,” she says, referring to the awards ceremony held at the Massachusetts State House last summer. Then she quickly moves on to discussing her next project: a local coat drive with AARP.

Her energy and enthusiasm is probably familiar to anyone who knew Cail when she studied accounting at Bentley. In those days, when the school resided in downtown Boston, she took every opportunity to be involved in activities — and sometimes created a few of her own. Twice a year, she and a friend would organize a dance at the Parker House hotel.

“I don’t think we ever made any money at it,” Cail remembers, laughing. “But we would break even. It was fun.”

Similarly, it is the social aspect of her volunteer work — making friends — that keeps Cail connected. “I’m going to do it as long as I can.”

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