Modest, with exemplary values and character, is one description given for the Newton Area AAUW Outstanding Branch Member in 2009.

Modest, with exemplary values and character, is one description given for the Newton Area AAUW Outstanding Branch Member in 2009.

A dedicated listener to the apprehensions and fears individuals sometimes share, Justina D. Neufeld has long been an acknowledged and respected advocate for helping others, according to an American Association of University Women news release.

A review of Neufeld’s nearly four-decade career reveals remarkable sensitivity and vision, the release stated. She was an initiator and contributor to numerous reforms that transformed mental health services from the dark ages, the release stated. Among her contributions was the impact of socialization for individuals under custodial care. She was among the pioneers who developed the model for aftercare of individuals returning to their communities from state and local mental health treatment programs, and this became a nationwide practice. Locally, Neufeld was the one who created the concept of Caring Place, which remains a haven for many out of the mainstream of our Newton social structure.

Long an advocate for women’s rights, better and more productive lives for young people, retirement has not interfered with Neufeld’s involvement in making the world for others more joyful. She is a promoter of exercise for good health, a knitter of prayer shawls and a reader to the Mission Quilters while they stitch away.

Neufeld has been a longtime member of a writer’s group. During her career years, she wrote many professional articles, but her starkly realistic autobiography published in 2003 overwhelms the reader with admiration and unlimited respect for her courage and tenacity, the news release stated. “A Family Torn Apart” is an account of the devastation to a family ripped apart by the endless and heartless ramifications of war.

Among the last words Neufeld’s mother left for her children were: “It is your duty to live without vanity, arrogance or pride. I hope you will always earn your bread honestly and treat others with respect.” Even though separated from her mother’s presence and guidance at the age of 13, Neufeld has lived her mother’s admonition to near perfection, the news release stated.

American Association of University Women is organized to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. AAUW’s Value Promise states, “By joining AAUW, you belong to a community that breaks through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.” The Newton-area branch is conducting its membership drive. Carol Kirchmer (283-2176) is the membership vice president and would be glad to address any questions. Lynnette Redington recently was installed as the new president of the Newton branch.