PLYMOUTH — A Campton resident who is a dedicated community volunteer is the recipient of Plymouth State University's 2013 Sara Jayne Steen Operating Staff (OS) Service award. Barbara LaJeunesse, who is known as Babs, has been employed at PSU for seven years as an Administrative Assistant for University Studies and the Undergraduate Advising Center, but her work at the University and for the region goes far beyond her day job.
Her volunteer efforts are extraordinary. She has been an enthusiastic volunteer for the past 25 years for Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, which covers all of New England; she also volunteered for Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, the Plymouth Senior Center and serves her local neighborhood district as Clerk. At PSU, she helps with the Festival of Trees community fundraiser, the OS Raffle Basket fundraiser, the University's Convocation and Commencement events, spring clean-up days, the OS Welcoming Committee for new employees and the Student Employee of the Year Award Committee.
"I am so honored, because volunteerism has been such a big part of my life, and it is very nice to be recognized for it," LaJeunesse said. "It was the most special award I could have possibly received. I love the fact that this University promotes and encourages students to volunteer."
Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen said in addition to her volunteer accomplishments, LaJeunesse has earned a reputation as an exceptional resource in helping students achieve their academic goals.
"Babs is someone about whom I have heard about for years from students, whose help for them was so extraordinary that they want to tell others," said Steen. "She reaches out to make others' lives better and exemplifies the University motto of service."
The Operating Staff Speaker, Nikki-Ann Nunes, introduced LaJeunesse as the winner and described her as a role model, who truly cares for the students she serves.
"Babs brings a unique perspective to her advisees trying to decide on a major, having 38 years of real world experience working in a variety of jobs, including office manager, account executive, supervisor, manager, and business owner."
The criteria for the award include exemplifying the spirit and values of the institution, being dedicated to providing a learning environment that supports development of the mind, body and spirit, being actively involved in University activities, and being engaged in service to the wider community.
LaJeunesse said she was shocked when she was announced as the OS Service Award winner.
"I felt like I was having an out of body experience because I was in such shock. It was completely and utterly unexpected," LaJeunesse said.
She and her husband Frank moved to New Hampshire in 2003; she began work at PSU in 2006. LaJeunesse has two stepchildren and five grandchildren. She and her husband have adopted eight golden retrievers in the past 30 years, most of them "seniors."
The Sara Jayne Steen Operating Staff Service Award winner was chosen by a seven member panel of faculty, staff, community members and students.