Gloucester resident recognized as 2020 Commonwealth Heroine

Mary Jane McGlennon of Gloucester will be honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women's 2020 class of Commonwealth Heroines. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Tarr

A 30-year Gloucester resident has received state recognition for her service to the Cape Ann community. 

Gloucester resident Mary Jane McGlennon was honored Wednesday as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women's 2020 class of Commonwealth Heroines. 

"Mary Jane McGlennon embodies the spirit of this award," said state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who has observed McGlennon work tirelessly on behalf of Cape Ann's most vulnerable residents. Ferrante recommended McGlennon earlier this year. "She has a lifetime of giving to her community, seeking no compensation in return other than to benefit the lives of others."

When she found out that she had received the state recognition, McGlennon couldn't believe it. 

"I was quite stunned to be a recipient," she said. "It is probably the highest honor to aspire to in my own life."

McGlennon's service to the Cape Ann community is expansive as she has helped make literature accessible to so many Gloucester residents through the Sawyer Free Library and sought to give voice and dignity to those who had trouble finding theirs because of mental and addictive diseases. 

McGlennon said her family's focus on community work was a driving influence in what would be a lifetime of service. 

"My family was always engaged in work with non-profits and I think it just came naturally to me to work in that direction," she explained. 

She began her work with local non-profit organizations in her role as a professional fundraiser, later to serve as a member and then chair of the Sawyer Free Library board and the first board chair of the Grace Center. 

Through the years, she has also worked with Gloucester Maritime, Pathways for Children, Cape Ann Museum and other organizations across the seacoast. 

"Today, although she has achieved success in her previous efforts to improve the lives of others, Mary Jane continues to support her community by volunteering in the mayor's office," Ferrante added. "Giving is ingrained in her constitution and I cannot envision her life at any point in time without contribution to her community." 

As her time is spent serving a variety of communities within Cape Ann, McGlennon said that serving in Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken's office is her dessert. 

"I absolutely love working in the mayor's office," said McGlennon, explaining that she helps the city's Confidential Clerk Enza Taormina. "I just love being a part of that team and I am really honored to be there and have enjoyed it incredibly."

While COVID-19 has her far away from City Hall and the threshold of the Grace Center, McGlennon is busy working with board members through Zoom policy discussions in how to maintain services to their guests. 

"It is a really complicated issue that has been basically my thrust over the past couple of months," she said. 

Eager to get back to the communities that she has poured so much of herself into over the years, McGlennon is grateful for the memories that have been made and the work ahead. 

"My experience with the guests has had a profound impact on me," she said. "You never know if you have been effective or not and I am really grateful that my life has had these opportunities."

"It really has changed my life," McGlennon emphasized.  

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is virtually celebrating the 17th annual Commonwealth Heroines Class of 2020. The commission is sharing a slideshow provided through a shared link on its social media platforms. 

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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