Volunteer Profile: Angela Cotter
Angela Cotter has been a beloved volunteer for the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville since 2011, but her history with the Little Sisters goes way further back in history. She started working in the kitchen in 1971, when the home was still the Holy Rosary Home. She started by doing odd jobs in the kitchen, mostly cooking for the Residents with special diets. She worked her way up, and eventually went to Bunker Hill Community College to get a degree that would allow her to become the Head Chef in Jeanne Jugan Residence’s kitchen.
Angela, whose maiden name is Fleming, is from Tuam County Galway and came to the U.S. (Boston) in 1957. It was one year later that she met her beloved husband. They met at Irish dances that took place in Roxbury at the old Hibernian Hall. They married in 1960 at the Columban Fathers Seminary in Milton. Together, they raised five children, Tommy, Ann Marie, Teresa, John, and Michael. The kids were all very close in age, with a set of twins in the mix (Teresa & John)! In that way, it was a hectic household, but one that was filled with a lot of love and joy. Today, when Angela speaks of her children, it is clear how much they mean to her; how much they enrich her life every single day. All of the children grew up around the Little Sisters of the Poor, and often accompanied their Mom to work, or came to volunteer themselves when they were old enough. The love and admiration Angela has for the Little Sisters easily and completely transferred to her children.
After 30 years of working for the Little Sisters of the Poor, Angela retired in 2001 and moved back to Ireland with her ailing husband. Over the ten years that she lived back in her home town, Angela would return a couple of times a year and visit family and friends in the States. Each trip back, she would always be sure to make a trip to the Little Sisters’ home to bake some bread for them before she returned to Ireland. In 2011, she returned to the U.S. for good and began her new “career” at Little Sisters as a volunteer in the kitchen.
Angela’s baking has become famous in the Little Sisters’ family here in Somerville. Many people travel to our annual Christmas Bazaar just to have the chance to buy a loaf of her authentically delicious Irish soda bread. And while the bread is scrumptious, what is so wonderful is the joy and love that she puts into everything she bakes. In fact, she brings Irish bread with her wherever she goes because she knows how much people love it! She recounts with a gleeful smile and twinkle in her eye, the time she needed to see her dentist who said he could not fit her in because he was booked. When she offered to bake him Irish bread, his schedule magically opened up, and she was able to get an appointment!
With her beautiful Irish brogue and infectious smile, Angela lights up any room she walks into. The Residents and staff love her equally and are always happy to see her around the Jeanne Jugan Residence. She speaks freely of her devotion to Our Lady of Knock, whom she makes a pilgrimage to every time she returns to Ireland, offering to bring along prayers from anyone and everyone here at the home. She is always willing to offer a helping hand, making extra bread for special events, and even assisting in fundraising for the home (many donors have made gifts in her honor!). Truly, Angela is a gift to the Little Sisters and all those here at the home in Somerville.
In November of 2018, Angela was recognized for her outstanding service to the Little Sisters with an “Unsung Hero” award from the Rotary Club of Somerville and was subsequently named Somerville News Weekly’s “Special Person of the Week.” And as blessed as we are to have Angela, she believes she is the one who is blessed for being able to work for the Little Sisters. “I just love being here. I love what these Sisters do…I see what they do every day and I admire them so much.”