Gustavus Alumna to Receive 2006 Service Award

Posted on October 25th, 2006 by

Mary K. Nelson, a 1961 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, will receive the 2006 Association of Congregations Service Award on Monday, Oct. 30.

This award is given to alumni and former students who have made distinctive commitments and contributions to the service of others through participation in volunteer work, involvement in the church, and extraordinary professional accomplishments.

Nelson earned this award through her volunteer work with Bethel New Life, a 25-year-old faith-based community development corporation that spearheaded social action programs needed on Chicago’s West Side which, in 1979, was in ruins. Bethel New Life has built more than 1,000 affordable home units, developed employment and training programs — placing over 4,000 people in full-time employment — and organized family support, schools, daycare and senior centers to improve the lives of the people in the predominantly African American neighborhood, serving 12,000 clients each year. It has brought over $110 million in investments into the West Side.

“I tell people to just start somewhere. The next steps will come. The evolution will happen,” Nelson says. “If you try to be global and wait until you can do everything at once, you can end up waiting too long.”

Nelson will receive the award at 10 a.m. Daily Celebration on Monday, Oct. 30 in Christ Chapel, where she will also give the homily. Other events of the day include lunch and conversation at 11:30 a.m. in the Heritage Room in the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center, dinner and dialogue at 5:30 p.m. in the St. Peter Room in the Campus Center, and a public address at 7 p.m. in the Heritage Room in the Campus Center.

Nelson is a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago and The Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education. She serves on the boards of the Christian Community Development Association, Call to Renewal, Working Group on Human Needs and Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the National Congress of Community Economic Development and chairs the boards of Goodcity and the Loretto Hospital Foundation. Nelson has advised Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on community and economic development and has met with every U.S. president from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush.

To RSVP for any of the events, contact Marilyn Beyer in the Office of Church Relations at Gustavus at 507/933-7001.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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