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On November 22nd, eight students from St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and St. Mary’s Ethiopian Congregation ventured out on the commuter rail to visit Wellesley College. The trip was part of a growing partnership between St. Stephen’s and Wellesley, which also includes SAT Prep, a program in which Wellesley students help prepare high school juniors at St. Stephen’s for the SAT exams. This fall, the partnership grew to include a program for seniors focused on college preparation. The high school students set up Common Applications, wrote college essays, and participated in SAT Prep classes.
The opportunity to visit Wellesley College allowed students at St. Stephen’s to see what a small liberal arts college looks like and ask the college students questions about their experiences and challenges. The visit included a tour led by college students and a panel of college students who answered questions. Helegenat, one of the students from St. Mary’s commented that her favorite part was “talking and listening to the Wellesley students, especially hearing the first generation student’s stories and advice. Also viewing the art room was something that struck my interest because it pertains to the type of art I’m working on right now.” After the panel, everyone went to the dining hall and stuffed themselves at the buffet. The next stop was the student center, where Wellesley generously provided $10 for every student at the gift shop. The students left the school fulfilled by a fun day exploring a new part of Massachusetts and learning about a different type of school.
St. Stephen’s is excited to continue the partnership with Wellesley in the spring by providing SAT Prep for Juniors. If you know anyone who may be interested in participating or if you want to learn more about how you can be involved in the College and Career program at St. Stephen’s, please reach out to Jeremy at Jeremy@ststephensbos.org.
By Teen Organizer Tahnaree Evans
Spending a Saturday afternoon at the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Martin seemed perfect, due to the fact that Thanksgiving was coming up around the corner. The teen organizers were there to do community service in the Lenox neighborhood, where we have focused organizing efforts in Ramsay Park throughout the summer and fall. We helped Crosstown Church volunteers cook and serve a community Thanksgiving meal. Meeting people who I had never met before was fantastic. Also, just having the joy of being able to dance with my friends and to feel like part of a community was an amazing way to spend my Saturday afternoon. Not to mention, the food (especially the green beans), was delicious to eat and I enjoyed every moment of it.
In an interview prior to the event, Pedro talked about how proud he was to be a part of Boston’s Latino community; “I am Lynn, I am Jamaica Plain, I am Lawrence, I am Providence, I am Roxbury. The best moments of my career happened in Boston and I will always carry them in my heart,” he said.
Following the AmeriCorps Swearing In Ceremony, 40 Mass Promise Fellows visited the Blackstone School for an afternoon of service. This was the first service event B-PEACE has sponsored this school year! School partnerships and service are the primary way B-PEACE works toward its goal of academic excellence in public schools.
The event began with an address to the volunteers at the school’s library from Lisa Lineweaver, representing the school’s Executive Leadership Team. Lisa spoke about the school’s turnaround story and the students the Blackstone serves. The school is one of the only BPS schools to serve students with multiple disabilities, and therefore draws students from all around Boston. Lisa also spoke about the school’s motto, Ubuntu, meaning, “we are because of each other”, and the school’s core values: respect, unity, and excellence. The presence of the volunteers that afternoon, said Lisa, was a way of showing, and not just telling, the students that the school community strives to live its motto.
Following Lisa’s introduction to the school, Tim Crellin, the founder and Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, spoke about the South End community that surrounds the Blackstone and the flourishing relationship between the Blackstone and St. Stephen’s. In addition to facilitating service days like this one, St. Stephen’s runs the Blackstone Library, coordinates Support-A-Classroom, and oversees classroom aids from Wellesley College.
After the orientation in the library, volunteers joined students in their classrooms for an afternoon of reading! A teacher hosting volunteers said he was delighted by his students’ enthusiasm to read with the volunteers. Several teachers expressed interest in hosting similar events to empower students and foster a love for reading.
After school was dismissed, the Mass Promise volunteers and St. Stephen’s after-school students and staff spent the sunny afternoon at the Blackstone Park and Ramsay Park weeding the garden, planting daffodil bulbs, and playing kickball.
Clergy and law enforcement are teaming up to organize a series of walks in neighborhoods throughout the city in response to the uptick in violence this summer, with the goal of strengthening community-police relationships so everyone can work together to reduce neighborhood violence.
On Saturday, October 24th, the Friends of Ramsay Park spent the morning giving the park a thorough fall cleaning. Neighbors from the South End and Lower Roxbury were joined by Northeastern students (as part of the Northeastern Center for Community Service’s NU Service Day), Washington Gateway Main Streets, teens from Vibrant Boston, and members of the South End Community Church and Emmanuel Gospel Center (as part of the Unite Boston BostonServes day). They raked up dozens of bags of leaves, picked up trash, and planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs around the tennis courts and the airplane statue that commemorates Captain David Ramsay. The day concluded with a performance by the Praise and Worship team from People’s Baptist Church, lead by the rockstar Reverend David Wright of the Black Ministerial Alliance.
Over the past week, through a partnership with Mass Mentoring, teens from St. Stephen’s have enjoyed a variety of Boston sports events. This past weekend, soccer fans Aliyah Glover and Nyah Webb traveled to Foxborough see the New England Revolution play the Montreal Impact at Gillette stadium. They went with their mentor, Kali Downer, as well as St. Stephen’s staff Kasey Boston and Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory. It started snowing in the second half, but the group stayed warm with a steady stream of hot chocolate and warm treats. Despite the Revolution losing 1-0, the group loved the experience and was thankful to have had the opportunity to go on the adventure together.
Following the soccer adventure, 5 of the teen organizers, along with St. Stephen’s staff members Sarah O’Connor and Karl Magloire, saw the Boston Celtics play a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. The teens celebrated their own fall organizing success together, while also losing their voices cheering on a team they all love. Sarah O’Connor said of the experience, “Dominick lost his voice yelling over the railing for the coach to put all of the players in so they all got a chance to play!”
All of these experiences were made possible through the partnerships between St. Stephen’s, Mass Mentoring, and Celtics Shamrock Foundation. With this partnership intact, St. Stephen’s hopes to continue to send teens and their mentors to games throughout the rest of the year.