Summer time and the livin’ is easy…well, sort of. Here are some RDC summer happenings that kept the energy a-movin’ all over “our world”:
(This entry thanks to Lucille Coldrick, RDC)
As Sisters Pam Wagner and Fran Liston’s Mustard Seed Ministry continued into the summer months, they were joined by many volunteers, including Barbara Heil, RDC, Steve Schmidt, ADC, and Company (week 1: 5 Kennedy Catholic High School female students; week 2, 6 students), who spent the weeks of July 16 and August 13 in Goshen, engaging the 50 – 60 eager young participants.
Each day began with “circle time” – lesson and prayer, followed by small group engagement in crafts, including rainy-day origami and lanyards led by Steve; sports, story-telling, etc. and, of course, given the heat wave that week, fun and games in the pool. (Rumor has it that Barbara the Chef has a big role to play in the week’s success!) Great time for the Goshen youngsters and quality service, new friends, and memories for the Kennedy
students! GOOOO, Gaels!
Good Counsel Academy High School was the proud host of a Summit Leadership Academy for Girls, a program developed and led by GCA graduate, Imma De Stefanis, RSCJ and Reyna Gonzalez, RSCJ, during the week of August 5-11. The program focused on leadership training from the perspective of servant leadership and covered such topics as: exploring personal leadership style in light of personality and temperament; social contexts of leadership; solidarity and compassion; power – a look at gender, race and culture; and the spiritual and ethical dimensions of leadership.
Participants from our high schools, GCA and Preston, engaged in hands-on activities and presentations, jointly constructing new and more nuanced meaning around leadership and what it requires. Each day a female guest speaker addressed a particular aspect of leadership from her own experience, serving the added purpose of exposing the girls to professional career options.
The girls were also led through a process that taught them project design, implementation and assessment, with each participant developing a project that she can implement in her school, Church or community. Some examples: Anti-bullying campaign in school, raising awareness about autism, healthy eating and nutrition for children, and self-harm prevention among teenage girls.
The girls were given an immediate opportunity to put their new leadership and public speaking skills to work by planning and leading the entire closing event on Saturday, August 11th, with family, friends, and some RDCs in attendance. Sr. Imma comments: “They organized themselves flawlessly!” with PowerPoint presentations that included an overview of each project, rationale, resource assessment, means for obtaining needed resources, a budget and expected outcomes. Whew!
Further commentary: Imma and Reyna spoke of their 10-year experience offering this project to college students and young adults in the U.S., Mexico, and Haiti. They saluted this group of girls at GCA as “pioneers,” the first group of high school participants in the program, applauding the group’s openness, maturity and earnest desire to learn. Students and parents commented on how the program far exceeded anything they had expected or imagined. Special thanks were offered to Laura Donovan, RDC, and Julie Kaen of GCA, “whose interest and support made the project possible.” All lived first-hand the Summit Leadership Academy’s tag line: Leadership is action, not position.
Perhaps next year will bring a new group of potential leaders to the program. As a special outreach to the future, let’s all work on informing and encouraging high school girls to participate in the Leadership Academy. This year’s participants so loved the experience that they volunteered to return next year as “mentors.” Goooo, Cougars and Panthers!
Meanwhile, Good Counsel also hosted the Rainbow Connection Summer Program. Director Gina Nieves describes it: “Founded by the Sisters of the Divine Compassion (in 1990), the program is geared at providing children from predominantly low-income, immigrant families with a compassionate and nurturing environment in which to grow and explore. The primary aim of the program is to offer children an affordable yet invaluable summer experience. Throughout six weeks of fun, children are exposed to age-appropriate academic, artistic, and athletic activities by a caring, supportive, and mostly bilingual staff.”
Among special celebrations were an Independence Day picnic, with children dressed in red, white, and blue. . . Topsy-Turvey Day with intentionally mismatched outfits on parade. . . Pajama Day. . . and Costume Day. The climax came on August 3 with the Annual Family Picnic and Crazy Hat Day, with families bringing lots of interesting dishes and a cooling down visit from the ice cream truck carrying free ice cream for all!
In the Bronx, the Preston Center of Compassion’s annual Summer Recreational Program, was run by Patricia Warner, RDC, Program Administrator, and teachers and coaches Marge McEvoy, ADC, Director, and Mike Houlihan, Assistant Director. It is the strong purpose of PCC that all services and programs, including this one, are targeted to those youth and families who are most in need in the east Bronx.
A grant from the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund Inc. enabled PCC to offer low-income family campers camp scholarships and to feed all campers and staff breakfast, lunch, and healthful snacks. The grant also enabled PCC to be the first community agency in the Bronx to use the funds towards creating a Physical Fitness Component to the camp program, based on the President’s Challenge Program. Campers tested their heart rates, developed a palate for healthy foods and snacks and learned how to stay physically fit and avoid health risks such as diabetes and obesity. The camper’s families expressed deep gratitude for this new facet of the camp, and PCC is committed to seek grants to continue this for next year’s program.
Other summer activities at Preston Center of Compassion included:
— A Leadership in Compassion Award Ceremony in June, honoring New York City Councilman James Vacca for his longstanding commitment to the Senior Run Program through PCC, which offers outreach services to homebound seniors in Throggs Neck.
– Inauguration of the Fr. Bill Collins Mentoring Fund to underwrite the PCC Big Sister/Little Sister Program for elementary students from Throggs Neck Housing who are tutored by PHS students.
– The Annual Fundraising Dinner and Raffle, with Leadership In Compassion Awards presented to Carol Wagner, RDC, for founding PCC Counseling services in 1991 and for providing counseling services on a sliding scale to families and children for over 20 years; and to Tom and Lyn Scheuring of Lamp Ministries, for service to the material poor in New York City for over 30 years. (The Scheurings are also the parents of two Preston High School graduates, Maria ’89 and Malissa ’90, and are proud grandparents of their daughters’ children).