Energy by Virtue By Julia Ingersoll, photos by MarkBolles.com
The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.
Energy is what keeps us moving. It’s transferred from one object to another when a reaction takes place. It’s what keeps cars rolling, rivers flowing, and even works in a seemingly intangible way – from person to person. When one person expends energy through an act of kindness, another person finds hope, strength to move forward.
Born in Albany, New York, Bruce graduated from Bethlehem High School. He went on to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to earn a teaching degree and landed in the Education Department back in Albany. Working in Albany in the mid 1970s, he and his wife, Madge, also served as house parents in a group home for at-risk youth in Lansingberg.
Meet Bruce O’Connell – an energy source. If you came across Bruce in passing, you might think, “He seems like a nice guy.” His positive attitude seems normal for a friendly person. But, once he walks away, a curious thing happens. You’re still smiling…and the smile lasts all day long.
“We oversaw seven young men who were there for petty crimes such as stealing food to feed their siblings. At the time, the court had the luxury of providing alternatives to immediate jail time. Madge and I were their opportunity to learn, and self-correct their actions,” said Bruce.
Bruce has the ability to fill an entire room with goodness. His gentle demeanor is only a guise for the reverberating energy he carries. But, where does it all come from? And why does he dedicate so much of this energy to the mission of Catholic Charities?
It was this first interaction with the people we too often refer to as “others” that instilled a passion for service in Bruce. When he looked at those boys, he saw the same beliefs, values, dreams and goals that he had. One crucial mistake was the only difference between them.
30 | Saratoga Christmas | 2014