Kabultec is sorry to report the passing of one of its Board of Directors. Eleanor De Paola (b. 1935) died from complications following a stroke during one of her daily swims. She passed away at Johns Hopkins University Hospital on April 28, 2019.
Eleanor had been a member of Kabultec’s Board since its formal inception in 2004. She had learned of the literacy and women’s rights programs Kabultec President Nasrine Gross was starting in Afghanistan beginning in 2002, and in November 2003, Eleanor herself travelled to Afghanistan to see this work for herself and to participate in a conference on women’s rights in the new Afghan Constitution. From that time forward, she became one of Kabultec’s strongest backers.
She pitched in in so many ways to support the Kabultec mission. She was always one of the principal organizers and planners of the annual fundraiser sponsored by the Cedar Lane Universalist-Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Maryland for many years. Not only did she accept reservations and checks at her home, but the image of her sitting at the front door, manning the ticket cash box and greeting fundraiser attendees, selling raffle tickets and keeping attendance is an iconic image of her that will long remain in the minds of all who have been associated with Kabultec.
But there is more. Eleanor knew how to price things for the silent auction at the fundraiser—how much to ensure a minimum bid and which items were likely to be competitive. Because of her extensive international travel, she had a feel for such things. How many times did she help man the Kabultec booth at conferences in which Kabultec was participating? And on several occasions, when Kabultec was collecting books, clothing and school supplies for shipment to colleges and orphanages in Afghanistan, Eleanor was always one of the stalwarts organizing the packaging these items for shipment.
A retired social worker, Eleanor was an accomplished advisor and a skillful navigator of human relations. She had a masterful way of cutting through disagreements in Kabultec Board meetings and helping to build a consensus. On those occasions when she conducted the Board meeting, it ran smartly and efficiently and ended in a timely fashion. As a personal advisor to Kabultec President Nasrine Gross, she was cherished for her wisdom and insights.
Eleanor De Paola played a significant role in helping Kabultec to help those in Afghanistan who have benefited from our work. She is greatly missed. In memory of her important role, Kabultec has prepared a plaque which will be prominently displayed in one of our adult literacy classes. Kabultec will also dedicate the 2019 inauguration and graduation classes in her honor. We are sure that her impact and role model as a responsible and democratic humanitarian in the 21st century will remain an undeniable and cherished part of Kabultec culture.
Some photos of Eleanor