Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Diane Gallagher, author of The Lure of Service


Name: 
Diane Gallagher
Current Occupation: 
Nursing History and University Archivist, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center - Boston University
Country of Service: 
Cape Verde
Years of Service: 
1990-1992

...one is never too old to love, to cry, to dance all night...

When Diane Gallagher was accepted to go to Cape Verde at the age of 53, it was not her first application to the Peace Corps.  The fact that Diane applied to be in one of the first groups in 1961 (denied because she was pregnant at the time), illustrates how her desire to serve continued to bubble — even through raising her children and careers in acting, human resources and as a business owner.  This pull to “give back" led her to reapply to Peace Corps and then to author her book, Lure of Service: My Peace Corps Adventures at Middle Age.  This book is a memoir, a travel guide and an adventure book, with Diane delightfully describing her work in Cape Verde in creating a children's library and developing small business skills in a women's sewing cooperative. Diane says that the biggest skill that she developed during her service was to learn how to encourage other women who have had a difficult life how to use their many talents and gifts to create opportunities. 
 
Both library and coop were successful but these efforts were not always appreciated by the women's husbands who felt threatened by their successes and Diane witnessed how poverty has excluded these women from services that could help break the cycle of poverty. The book also recounts Diane's promise to a dying mother to bring her four year old son to the US from Cape Verde. He now lives in Salt Lake City, and got married last year and this year he and his wife had a baby boy. 
 
Diane also tells a wonderful story about the culture and caring she experienced in Cape Verde.  
"One day I went to the post office and got a telegram from my son Bill. “Aunt Millie has passed away”. Aunt Millie was my mother’s sister and helped raise me when my mother died when Mother was 38 and I was only 14. I went to a bench in the park and cried and then did not go back to work, but went home and put on Mozart on my lil boom box. Aunt Millie loved Mozart. That night, when the light of the day faded and inky black darkness  came and surrounded us, I heard a knock on my old wooden door. When I opened the door, no one was there, but there was a casserole, with a sweet cloth over it. One hour later, two very, very cold beers (rare as we had minimal refrigeration). Then, another knock, another dish covered with a cloth, another knock, a salad, another knock, a piece of cake, freshly baked. My friends, neighbors did not know why I cried, they just knew I cried and gave me sustenance and love. No email went out, no Twitter, Twatter, all that current and popular high tech stuff, the message was passed on between person to person. Most effective and so very kind."      
 
Currently, Diane works at Boston University as the Nursing History and University Archivist at the Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center. For her continuing service to the children of Cape Verde, she has won numerous awards such as the United States President’s Volunteer Award and the Lillian Carter Award.  
 
Diane Shugrue Gallagher was born in New York City and has lived in Brookline, MA for 29 years and is a mother of four adult children and two grandchildren. 

 

By Anna - Posted on 27 July 2014

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Continue to explore and think broadly about your experience with Peace Corps.
...one is never too old to love, to cry, to dance all night...
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