BY ROBERTA CODEMO
The odds were stacked against Margaret “Boony” Luparell of Dawson from day one. Born on the south side of Chicago, her family moved to Springfield when she was about four years old. She grew up on Springfield’s north side, the youngest of five children.
“I come from very humble beginnings,” she said. “It was tough.”
Luparell’s older siblings raised her, and she was expected to contribute financially to the household from a young age. She graduated from Lanphier High School but never attended college. Luparell says she has always felt she had to prove herself.
“I think this responsibility at such a young age instilled a very strong work ethic,” she said.
Luparell has used that work ethic to build two businesses, and she gives back by volunteering in several roles. Her contributions enrich the community by molding young people and supporting the arts in Springfield.
Luparell was working for the State of Illinois when Connie Matrisch with the Credit Bureau of Springfield hired her in Luparell’s first managerial role – one for which she says she’s forever grateful. She left after four years to help her husband run CapiTel Communications.
“I had never balanced a checkbook,” Luparell, said, recalling the first time she opened Quickbooks and saw they were in the red. She says she cried for a month. “I thought, ‘I just quit a good paying job.’ ”
She credits three close friends with teaching her more than any business course could. She could bounce ideas off them, and they shared tidbits of wisdom with her.
“They were an oasis,” she said.
Within five years, CapiTel went from one store to 15, before they sold the business in 2008.
Luparell says it’s important for her to give back to the community because others helped her. A strong supporter of the Springfield Youth Hockey Association, she hosts Springfield Junior Blues players in her home. She is also a mentor for high school students in the Sangamon CEO program and serves as social chairperson for the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair.
When Luparell looks back on her childhood, she sees a lot of kids who are growing up now the way she did, who just need to know someone cares. She mentors at-risk children at Washington Middle School through a feeder program for the Sangamon CEO program.
“I’ve been where you are,” she said, explaining how she approaches students. “I’ve lived where you live. I want you to know there’s more out there.”
Luparell says children need support from the community, and she thinks often about the world she wants her sons to live in.
“They have to have hope,” she said. “My children are my whole life. My life went from black-and-white to color when I had them.”
Before having children, Luparell says, her life revolved around work. Now, she doesn’t want to miss a second with them. In 2011, she bought another business, A Storage Box, because it allows her to spend more time with her kids.
“It fits me,” she said.
Luparell says it’s important for her children to know where they come from. She’s raising them not to be judgmental.
“Everyone has the right to live within their own skin,” she said, adding that she’s a firm believer in equality. “It’s important to step in when someone is not being treated fairly.”
For now, Luparell is focused on helping her sons navigate their way into adulthood. She wants to instill a clear understanding of right and wrong in them, along with compassion, empathy and love – and some sick hockey skills.
Luparell says that if someone had told her as a young woman that she would someday be a successful business woman and help improve her community, she wouldn’t have believed them.
“If I can do this, anyone can,” she said. “Don’t give up on your dreams.”
Photo By Terry Farmer