Dean Baldwin’s passion for reading and helping others goes beyond his 44-year profession as a professor.
Dean earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from Ohio State and taught English at three colleges, including Penn State Behrend. He has been involved with writing, editing and reviewing multiple books and has served as a board member and president of the PA College English Association as well as the National College English Association.
At 78, Dean continues to be active within his community, volunteering his time to ensure children have access to things they need to be successful—like books. For more than 30 years, Dean has been involved with the all-volunteer organization he founded, Hooked on Books for Kids, where he serves as president. Through the work accomplished by Hooked on Books for Kids, Dean has helped put nearly 500,000 books into the hands of local underprivileged children, free of charge. Dean also shares his love of reading by volunteering his time reading to children at schools like Edison Elementary, helping to promote literacy and lifelong learning.
Dean is humble and is the first to credit the impact of his work by crediting the work of others. When asked what inspires him, Dean shares, “Reading is key to success in school and life and children need encouragement, role models, and books. There is—not least—the simple joy of trying to make a difference in children’s lives.”
Thomas J. Loftus
Thomas Loftus has filled his life with a dedication to working hard, helping others and problem solving.
Tom earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Detroit and later an MBA from Gannon University, which he built upon during his 44-year career at LORD Corporation where he retired as Senior Vice President. Additionally, Tom has served on the Board of various organizations including Van Air in Lake City, Hamot, and the Manufacturers and Business Association of Erie. In 1999 he became a Trustee of Gannon University and remained so until May of 2020.
Tom has been a hands-on contributor and a collective voice with many groups including Our Lady of Peace and Holy Cross Parishes, the Catholic Foundation and Catholic Charities, and the Chautauqua Catholic Community. Tom and his wife Chris saw the needs of the Erie Community and worked with the Catholic Foundation to establish an endowment that would help improve problems faced by many today and in the future. For a number of years, Gannon University has hosted the Thomas J. and Mary H. Loftus Lecture on Catholic Thought and Action series, which helps bring in prominent speakers for Gannon students and the community.
At 86, Tom continues to share his spirit of volunteerism with friends and neighbors in the Carriage Home community at Saint Mary’s. He is described as a person who will help with any problem, give you a ride anywhere you need it, or simply offer companionship.
Of volunteering, Tom says, “Volunteering is a two-way street. For the receiver, it’s another source of important support and insight. The volunteer benefits from the experience in several ways—developing relationships, sharing their wisdom and life experience, and engaging in a larger perspective.”
Celestine “Sally” Sullivan
Celestine Sullivan’s commitment to her faith and family shine brightly through her acts of service.
Once a Registered Nurse, Sally took on her most important role as stay-at-home mom after the birth of her first child. It was then and there that she felt inspired to help her community. She and her husband, Ray, volunteered at the school cafeteria and were Eucharistic ministers at St. George and Our Lady of Mercy Parish. Sally also joined Our Lady of Hope Praesidium, Our Lady of Mercy Praesidium, and later joined Our Lady of Peace Parish and their Legion Praesidium, amounting to forty years of being an active member of the Legion of Mary—she continues, still, as an auxiliary member. With a focus on spiritual and social welfare, through the Legion of Mary, Sally has been making rosaries by the dozen to give away during visits to local nursing homes and hospitals as well as to first communicants and confirmands in Erie.
For more than ten years, Sally joined Msgr. James Peterson in his work with the Maria House Project Ministry, traveling each week to the Maria House Lodge in Spartansburg. There, she attended mass and bible studies and ate lunch with the men in residence helping to make their journey of recovery a little brighter.
At 91, Sally is as kind and caring as ever. Of her work, she turns to a quote by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who seems to summarize her ministry so beautifully, “There are no great things, only small things done with great love.”