Jeanie Shanahan was honored at SquashSmarts VIP Night at the United States Open tonight with the 2017 SquashSmarts Distinguished Service Award.
The executive assistant and officer manager at Philadelphia’s urban squash program, Shanahan joined the staff in July 2007. She had previously worked for a half dozen years at US Squash as an office manager; her older sister, Anne Farrell, was a US Squash staff member for twenty-six years.
Two SquashSmarts graduates spoke about Shanahan’s abiding influence on their lives. Quinetta Bowden is a seven-year graduate of the program who has returned to the program at the middle school academic director. “In every family, there’s a primary caregiver,” Bowden said, “someone who makes sure everyone has exactly what they need in order to do their very best. In the SquashSmarts family, that person is undoubtedly Miss Jeanie.”
Kareem Price, another seven-year graduate who is back working at SquashSmarts—as the director of transportation—also spoke. “You’ve been like a mother figure to not only me but to every student, volunteer and co-worker who has every walked through the doors of SquashSmarts,” Price said. “Everyone has an extra spring in our steps because we know we will be greeted by a smile and a huge from Miss Jeanie that will brighten your day and cure all of your worries.”
Two hundred friends, staff members, parents and board members came to SquashSmarts VIP Night. Founded in 2001, SquashSmarts has just begun its seventeenth season. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit, SquashSmarts is a free intensive out-of-school academic and athletic mentoring program changing the lives of Philadelphia’s public school students. Students are recruited in middle school from Roberto Clemente Promise Academy, Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary, and Overbrook Educational Center. Operating out of two facilities—the Lenfest Center in North Philadelphia and Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center—the program has students attend practices three days a week for seven years. Strong one-on-one relationships with staff like Jeanie Shanahan have been the key to SquashSmarts breaking the cycle of Philadelphia’s public school drop-out rate.