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The fifth annual MIT President's Community Service Awards were presented last week to Dawn E. Swan, executive director of the Cambridge Community Center, and Evette M. Layne, director of the MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program.
The awards were created to provide recognition to members of the Cambridge and MIT communities who have devoted themselves to the highest ideals of community service. They are presented by President and Mrs. Rebecca M. Vest in conjunction with the MIT Office of Government and Community Relations.
In introducing the 1999 winners at the awards ceremony in the President's House on December 1, President Vest said, "Today, we are again celebrating our city's vigorous spirit of volunteerism and community service by honoring two people who have devoted their time, energy, and talents to enhancing the quality of life in this city."
Since 1983, Ms. Swan has been executive director of the Cambridge Community Center, which has served thousands of participants in a variety of daycare, after-school, teenage and adult programs. She has made the center a model of neighborhood collaboration and harmony.
"In the true spirit of this award, she has reached out to neighbors like MIT to form partnerships," said President Vest. "Collaborating with MIT's Public Service Center and other organizations on campus, she makes possible a wealth of community service opportunities at her facility for MIT students."
Last year, more than 60 MIT students volunteered at the center through the America Reads program, working with children on improving basic reading and study skills. The center recently developed a computer literacy program using computers and printers donated by the MIT Libraries.
"MIT is fortunate to have Dawn Swan's remarkable Cambridge Community Center as a neighbor and partner," President Vest said. "The opportunities that Dawn brings to our citizens, old and young alike, make our community's future considerably brighter, hopeful and more secure."
In accepting her award, Ms. Swan thanked MIT for its involvement in the community, noting that MIT students volunteer at her facility every day of the year.
The MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound program was established in 1966 with the objective of serving low-income and first-generation youth from Cambridge seeking to attend college. Ms. Layne participated in the program in 1973 when she was a high school student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. She has been its director since 1990. During her tenure, 92 percent of the more than 300 young men and women who have participated have gone on to college study.
"Through workshops on study skills and time management, advice on topics such as college admissions and financial aid, and other means of academic enrichment, Evette has been a guide, a role model, and an invaluable counselor to these promising high school students," President Vest said. "Her efforts to augment the standard curriculum with supplemental educational activities often make the difference that enables talented children to attend college and, indeed, prosper in later life.
"The MIT community is immensely proud of and grateful to Evette for her selfless dedication to raising opportunities for educational achievement for all Cambridge youth. Her efforts enhance the constructive relationship between MIT and the Cambridge community. The people of Cambridge are most fortunate to be served by the inspirational work of Evette Layne."
In accepting her award, Ms. Layne acknowledged the many friends and family members in the audience who had guided and mentored her.
City Councillors Kenneth E. Reeves and Michael A. Sullivan offered congratulations to the award recipients from the City of Cambridge. Paul Parravano of MIT Government and Community Relations acted as master of ceremonies.
Past recipients of the President's Community Service award include Majors Stephen and Betzann Carroll (Salvation Army), Marie C. Cedrone (MIT Sponsored Programs -- posthumous), Vaughn A. Crayton (Department of Facilities), Yvonne L. Gittens (Student Financial Services), Gordon N. Gottsche (Just A Start Corp.), Reverend Howard A. McLendon (Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church), Dr. Janet C. Moses (MIT Medical), Lisa P. Van Vleck (Cambridge School Volunteers), and Professor J. Kim Vandiver (MIT Edgerton Center). A number of previous winners attended the event.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 8, 1999.