"When we provide a spiritual context for service, it totally changes the experience. We need to help young people see how much they have in common with the people they serve and to realize they can learn from and admire those in need."
2013 Woman of Faith inspires others to extend Christ’s hand
Growing up in a small-town suburb of New York City, Ann Maguire and her seven siblings witnessed realities of urban life. Their neighborhood 4-H Club focused on community service rather than rural life, so the Maguire kids performed skits, songs and dance routines at a nearby homeless shelter. Known as “Camp LaGuardia,” the former women’s prison owned by New York City’s Department of Social Service housed up to 1,000 homeless men.
“We really looked forward to those shows,” Ann recalls with a laugh. She now knows visits to Camp LaGuardia were her mom’s way to reveal the joy in serving others. “These were men dealing with alcoholism and mental illness,” Ann says, “but even as kids, we saw in their smiles and applause what our visits meant to them.”
Today, the 4-H motto “Head, Heart, Hands and Health” epitomizes Dr. Ann Maguire’s life. She has a genuine comfort level with society’s outcasts that many people never find. Dr. Maguire is not afraid to hold a hand, look right into the eyes of a homeless patient and ask, “What can I do for you?” She knows she can’t just say, “Make healthier food choices” to a patient with Type II Diabetes who lives miles from a supermarket without a car. In her internal medicine practice, Ann strives to treat the whole person and knows there’s often so much more than meets the eye. She takes that lesson into Medical College of Wisconsin classrooms, teaching students how seemingly unrelated needs affect health and wellness.
Nominating Ann for the 2013 Woman of Faith Award, Michelle Schmit describes her friend as a “fierce advocate for the poor.” She might have been thinking of the time Dr. Maguire’s uninsured patient seeking pain relief was found to have a brain tumor. Ann knew her patient’s best chance for effective treatment depended on getting insurance coverage, and she did everything in her power to make it happen.
Colleague Barbara Horner-Ibler calls Ann a bridge builder who takes to heart God’s call for justice to the poor. Barbara says, “Centeredness in her faith gives Ann courage, strength and focus to be that bridge” between individuals, institutions and community agencies to bring health and wholeness to people she serves.
Beyond Ann’s personal commitment, she models Christ-like service to her two sons, her medical students and even professional colleagues. Mary Jo Lo says of her friend, “Ann sees service to others as an opportunity to quietly demonstrate a humble faith in God. Her faith can be heard in casual conversations, and her small acts of kindness are a window into her heart and faith.” Mary Jo says one or the other of Ann’s sons is often by her side, learning by example. “She’s always guiding, inspiring and gently nudging those around her to see value, positive spirit and hope in all.”
As a physician and mentor, Dr. Maguire serves Milwaukee’s most vulnerable populations — people living in poverty, homeless military vets with mental illness, women released from prison trying to make a fresh start. “She embodies faith in God and His work, as she lives and works in our community,” says Mary Jo. Ann Maguire’s greatest gift to patients, colleagues, students, family and friends just might be a life so intimately linked to faith-inspired service that it no longer seems extraordinary.
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