Maureen Conors Badding has no problem admitting why she first started to volunteer in Wauwatosa. She wanted to meet people.
As a Buffalo, N.Y. native, Badding has no family in the area. But after 27 years of living in Wauwatosa, Badding has become the city's 2013 Distinguished Citizen for her service to the community she now calls family.
As a full-time freelance writer, Badding's schedule is flexible to her leadership positions. Badding is currently on the board for the Public Library Foundation, Friends of Hoyt Park & Pool and the Neighborhood Association Council. She is the former president of the Olde Hillcrest Neighborhood Association but still facilitates two of its clubs, and currently serves as a Block Watch captain. She also chairs Tosa's All-City Read through NAC and volunteers for Tosa Fest, the annual Firefly Art Fair and InterFaith Older Adults program at her church.
"A lot of the work I do is because [Wauwatosa] has become my family," Badding said.
One of her proudest accomplishments is organizing the All-City Read, a communal reading program for the entire city that started last year. The program had nine book discussions and about 20 events.
"We took the [All-City Read] from just an idea to having a full event in a year," Badding said. "It's a labor of love."
The purpose of the All-City Read is to promote participation in neighborhood associations and to promote literacy — both of which are important to Badding. An avid reader, Badding is currently reading "Infidel" and "Confessions of a Pagan Nun" through two book clubs.
Badding's past service includes coordinating and volunteering for the Wauwatosa Village Green Street Fair and serving on numerous PTA committees while her daughter, Julia, who is now 22, was in school.
"I think Maureen felt strongly that she needed to find a way to give back and keep the city growing, thriving and connected," said Karen Jaeckels, mayoral assistant who served on the Olde Hillcrest Neighborhood Association board with Badding.
Community involvement also runs in the Badding family. Badding's husband, Jeff, is currently an Old Hillcrest Neighborhood Association board member. Their daughter, Julia, coaches Marquette University's swim club while completing her fifth year in the six-year physical therapy doctorate program.
The Baddings moved to Olde Hillcrest before the neighborhood association even existed because the architecture reminded them of Buffalo. "We have felt very comfortable since day one," Maureen said.
Looking ahead, Maureen hopes to see continued growth on North Avenue and in the village.
"I get called a 'connector' all the time," she said of her avid networking. "People are so passionate about this community, and I want to make it an innovative place."
The All-City Read, she said, is one way she hopes to enact lasting change in Wauwatosa.
"I get as much out of it as I put into it or more."
Attend the Distinguished Citizen Award Banquet and Ceremony
WHEN: ■Reception begins at 5:30 p.m.; dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The reservation deadline is Monday, March 28.
WHERE: ■Blue Mound Golf and Country Club
COST: Reservations are $45 per person and can be made in person at the City Clerk's Officer, 7725 W. North Ave. (checks only) or by mail with names of people attending made payable to: Wauwatosa Distinguished Citizen Award Council, c/o Chris Zirbes, 2658 N. 88th Street, Wauwatosa, WI 53226.
Banquet reservation information will be posted on the City's website: www.wauwatosa.net
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