Today current Cheverus sophomore Ella Davie made a special delivery of important and desperately needed donations of personal care products to the City of Portland Family Shelter, as part of a special All Refugee Relief Project .
This community service project was facilitated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Sanford, ME congregation), in which Ella is an active member. The donations were sourced from congregations from Sanford, ME; Portsmouth, NH; Exeter, NH; Wolfboro, NH, Derry, NH, Georgetown, MA. Additionally the Sanford, ME Universalist Unitarian congregation made a donation to the collection effort.
For months prior to the delivery, Ella volunteered before weekly church services to inventory, organize, and package the donations. Today she helped to unload the donations at the shelter, and she received a tour of the shelter from Jeff Tariff, Program Manager, City of Portland-Family Shelter and Aaron Geyer, City of Portland Health & Human Services Department. On the tour she learned more about the people who receive shelter services, and the difficulties and struggles that accompany journeying to in new country to begin a new life.
The donations were plentiful and help to fulfill a critical need and included: 3,559 diapers, 141 toothbrushes, 4,098 baby wipes 43 boxes of tissues, 102 hair care products, 162 cleaning products, 529 tubes of toothpaste, 104 bottles of lotion, 3,160 feminine hygiene products, and hundreds of winter jackets, scarves, gloves and hats.
This experience was particulary meaningful for Ella following the recent presentation at Cheverus by Catholic Charities of Maine, offering an all-school storytelling retreat that afforded all students the opportunity to gather in small groups to listen to the personal reflections of Simane Ibrahim, Parivash Rohani, Nasser Rohani, and Ninette Irabaruta -- who are immigrants to the United States. This special program was part of a yearlong effort organized by our World Language Department to bring to life our the community wide summer read, Amy Bass's book One Goal.
Ella shared, “I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to hear from refugees at Cheverus. Thinking about that experience, I was given an opportunity to identify needs of local refugees in the Portland area. I was able to be a part of providing tangible items to help bring comfort to their new lives during a difficult time of transition.”
This year as a community, all Cheverus students, faculty and staff read the book One Goal by Amy Bass, an inspiring story of how the game of soccer has the power to transcend boundaries of race, religion, socioeconomic status, and nationality. One Cheverus student, junior Caroline Taylor, recently put that powerful message into action as she took part in an immersion trip to India focused upon empowering young girls through the game of soccer.
Over Thanksgiving break Caroline traveled to Pune, India for a nine day journey with Limitless Child International a program that creates opportunities for vulnerable children from orphanage care and impoverished communities to help them realize their full potential and thrive. According to the vision statement of the Organization, Limitless Child International, “brings play, learning, and social connections to India's most vulnerable children. Because all children have the right to a thriving childhood.”
Caroline is an honors student who grew up in Sanford and attended the Saint Thomas School in Sanford, her family recently relocated to Biddeford. In addition to playing on the girls varsity soccer team, Caroline is also a member of the varsity softball team and is active in the Key Club.
On the journey, Caroline worked closely with a trained coach, Katie Lamarre who is a member of the University of New England women’s soccer team (and a teammate of former Cheverus girls’ soccer captain Katie Gordon ‘17) to teach the girls basic soccer skills, but most importantly this positive interaction helped to boost they girls’ sense of self, and created positive connections with strong young women.
Jenny Mills, the Limitless Child program executive director who accompanied the participants on the trip remarked, “Caroline is a thoughtful, observant young woman, who immediately and genuinely connected with the girls she coached….she opened herself up to learning about the girls she met... I think that Caroline was deeply impacted by the first-hand experience of being in a slum environment and learning about the difficult life circumstances of the girls she coached. However, despite the profound differences in their lives, Caroline and the other peer coaches truly connected with the girls from India around their similar hopes and dreams and shared questions about what it means to be a teenager.”
Caroline praised Mill’s leadership of the program, “I could not think of a better person to take us to India, I was not nervous at all because she is so familiar with the area and the culture; she loves India!”
Just as she served as an inspiring role model for the young girls, Caroline was, “inspired by the fact that although they lived in a very impoverished region, with extremely limited resources, they were happy and joyful and loved to play.” Caroline was moved by how much the girls “just wanted to be around us and learn about our lives -- they wanted to see pictures of my sisters and my friends.”
In addition to her work with soccer, Caroline had the opportunity to explore the cities of Pune, Jaipur, and Delhi, enjoy traditional Indian meals and a traditional dance performance, and explore bazaars and open air markets. One additional impactful experience was learning about the work of the ASHA Crisis Intervention Center and its Girls Empowerment Program, designed to provide support for the whole person for young girls. By providing support such as financial assistance, tutoring, and life skills instruction, the ultimate goal of the center is to remove and reduce the barriers that lead girls to teen marriage, school drop out, and child labor.
According one of the group leaders Minal Dani, “When a woman is battered and bruised, and thrown out of her home without any belongings or children, and comes to us for help, we want her to understand the whole process and then make decisions for herself. There can be decisions which can give her instant relief versus decisions which can help her in the long run. Our job is to empower the woman and encourage her to make the long-term decisions.” Since 2011, ASHA’s programming has helped 38 girls to achieve post-secondary education.
Upon her return from a region of the world plagued by pollution and extreme poverty, Caroline states, “I have gained a new appreciation for our living conditions, to have access to running water, showers and clean air.” She has also remained in frequent contact with the other American participants and hopes to encourage a friend or two from Cheverus to return to India with her next year. Applications for participation in this program are available now. Apply now for the 3rd Annual Soccer Trip
“On the last day, I watched Caroline pass out individual, hand-made cards, which she had worked on for hours the night before, to each of the 15 girls in her group. She had put a lot of thought and time into her cards. The smiles and hugs and long, long goodbyes said it all.” said Mills, “The human bond and connection, as well as the skills of soccer, had made a difference.”
Rachael Haskell Named Winner of a 2018 Amirault Scholarship
March 16, 2018
Congratulations to senior Rachael Haskell, the recipient of the 2018 Lila Grace Sullivan Amirault Scholarship.
The scholarship fund, which helps Maine Catholic high school students with college tuition costs, was established in 2013 by the late Patrick Amirault, in memory of his wife. Amirault, who grew up as one of nine children in a poor family in Malden, Mass., created the fund to show his appreciation for the care and quality education he received at a Catholic school there. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be accepted at an accredited college or university and must plan to work while attending college. Each recipient will receive $4,500.
“I know that there were many worthy candidates and to be chosen is truly an honor,” said Rachael. “I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and the kindness behind it.”
One of seven children, Rachael, appreciates the gift of family, including her second family: a community of friends and teachers at Cheverus that has given her so much.
“You can tell that people, especially the teachers, they really care for you. They will listen to you, and they will talk with you and try to help you. And it’s also present in the students, too,” said Rachael. “That’s what it means to be a Cheverian. It means to recognize interdependence and devote yourself to bettering the world around you.”
Rachael’s time at Cheverus High School has been a transformative experience.
“Cheverus is a school that emphasizes the need to care for others, which is immensely important in the formation of education in understanding its greater purpose,” said Rachael. “Cheverus has been a welcoming community, and they have taught me through love and patience and showed me that my purpose in this world is inherently connected to the people around me.”
Something that Rachael, even as a senior in high school, has already accomplished. She has donated her time to countless local charities and community initiatives. Cheverus has created in her a “desire for justice,” especially for those who are suffering. In the summer before her senior year, she went on an immersion trip to the southern border of the United States.
“The stories told in the news became more than stories. They were people with faces, personalities, and dignity,” said Rachael. “We heard stories from real immigrants about crossing over and being detained. We went to the court and heard the trials of caught migrants. We traveled through the desert in scorching Arizona temperatures, experiencing a small portion of the paths of migrants. I saw the suffering of the world not as something distant that had nothing to do with me but as a personal offense, like it was my own dignity that was being wounded.”
Still considering several outstanding colleges, she plans to study psychology with aspirations to become a child therapist.
“It took me a while to process that being a Catholic didn’t mean you had to be physically going out and saving people. You just have to be using the gifts that God gave you to try to make the world a better place. I am particularly interested in practicing therapy, especially in working with children. I have always enjoyed working with children, and I have always had an ability to read and write,” said Rachael, who also plans to minor in English or creative writing. “I enjoy analyzing and creating characters, and I believe that these traits can be used practically to better society as best as I am able. I hope to utilize my major and my minor to produce a result that best suits my interests and the community's interests by being a steward of the gifts that I have been given.”
Rachael is a member of the National Honor Society; has a gift for performing (she’s a member of the Cheverus Drama Society); and is driven by her faith.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to help people because that is something really taught in Catholicism. You’re interdependent with everyone else, your destiny is locked with everyone else’s, and you are meant to help other people,” said Rachael.