March 20, 2003
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Local resident Maureen Lynch—
Volunteering in cause of her beliefs

A self-described “laid-back” person, Maureen Lynch isn’t one to grab the limelight. Growing up a good Catholic girl, she was raised to do the right thing.
But last week, when she held the spotlight for 90 seconds in front of 700 people, Lynch chose to do the difficult thing, and used her time to express her opposition to the government’s impending war on Iraq.
“It was a little scary at first and my voice was shaking,” Lynch said. “But it felt good afterwards.”
Lynch’s courage illustrates why she was chosen as one of nine YWCA of Dayton’s “Women of Influence,” women who exemplify “community spirit, leadership, volunteerism and self-sacrifice,” according to organizers. She received her award at a luncheon ceremony on Thursday, March 13, during which each honoree had a minute and a half to speak.
“I’m thinking of all the people who will die: American and Iraqi soldiers, and all the civilians — men, women and children, now referred to by our government as ‘collateral damage’ — who will die as the bombs rain down on Baghdad,” Lynch said at the event.
Her desire to stand up for her beliefs has led Lynch to volunteer for a variety of local and regional organizations, especially for those that support her passions for women’s rights, civil liberties and access to health care. She has served as president of the boards of Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami Valley and NARAL/Ohio, and as vice president of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company board.
She has also served on the boards of the Dayton YWCA, WPTD, Freedom of Choice Miami Valley and Miami Valley Voters for Legal Abortion.
Locally, Lynch served as president of the Friends Health Care Association Board of Trustees during the Friends Care Community Millennium capital campaign, which raised $1 million for the center. She also served on the board of the Community Children’s Center.
Lynch’s leadership during the fundraising campaign was “invaluable,” Friends Care Director Jeff Singleton said.
“It was a time of tremendous growth for the organization but with growth came financial strains and tight budget years,” Singleton said. “Maureen remained focused, even visionary, in looking towards the future. Her calming influence kept us on course.”
Diane Foubert, who was director of the Children’s Center when Lynch served on its board, also appreciated Lynch’s dedication and her equanimity.
“She was so diligent in her work and impeccably honest and objective,” Foubert said. “She has a calm, an evenness that I really appreciated.”
Lynch has given countless hours volunteering for local organizations because she feels blessed with good fortune and to show her appreciation for her community. “I’ve been lucky to have a good family, a good education and the time to give,” she said.
She and her husband, Richard Lapedes, moved to Yellow Springs from Dayton in the early 1980s when they adopted two children, Helen and Will. “We loved Yellow Springs and thought it would be a great place to raise kids,” she said. “It also turned out to be a great place to be an adult.”
And volunteering isn’t about self-sacrifice, Lynch said.
“I think you get as much as you give when you volunteer,” she said. “You meet great people and get the satisfaction of working for things you believe in.”
Women’s reproductive rights are at the forefront of Lynch’s concerns, especially now that the Bush administration has cut funding to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and, she believes, seems to be heading toward creating a Supreme Court that will further undermine reproductive rights.
“Most pro-choice activists think Bush is trying to get the Supreme Court to reverse Roe vs. Wade,” she said. “Things are bad now for women’s reproductive rights.”
To help support those rights, Lynch has recently rejoined the board of Planned Parenthood of Dayton. She has also through the years worked on the campaigns of many politicians who supported women’s reproductive rights, such as Richard Celeste and Lee Fisher, and worked for area women who sought public office, such as Debby Lieberman and Rhine McLin.
“We won’t have legislation that’s good for women until about 50 percent of legislators are women,” she said.
And in two years, Lynch knows what she’ll be doing.
“I can’t wait to work against George Bush,” she said.
Lynch’s passion for political activism began when, after she graduated from the University of Dayton with an education degree, she spent a year as a VISTA volunteer in an economically depressed area in Kansas City. The oldest of five children from a Catholic family in Akron, Lynch had never before seen poverty close-up.
“It was graduate school for me,” she said.
After returning to Dayton, Lynch taught young children while she lived in a cooperative household. That experience also proved to be life-changing, since another member of the household was Richard Lapedes, now her husband. The two took up sailing, and traveled to the Virgin Islands, where they lived for three years before returning home.
The couple moved to Yellow Springs in the early ’80s. A mother with young children, Lynch began her association with the Children’s Center because she believed it was essential for the village to offer working mothers affordable, quality childcare.
Her children are almost grown now, with Helen spending a year in France and Will at a private secondary school.
When asked what she would most like her daughter to learn, Maureen Lynch didn’t hesitate.
“I’d like her to be willing to speak up, to stand up for the things she believes,” Lynch said.
To find a role model for courage and forthrightness, Helen Lapedes doesn’t need to look far. Just as far as her mother.

—Diane Chiddister