Tag Archives: Tag: Community Service

is our Shepherds Community Engagement/Community Service Day.

Community Engagement is…the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices. (CDC, 1997).


Dear Shepherds Friends,

I’ll tempt fate a bit and start this September newsletter off optimistically anticipating a “normal”, healthy, in-person, be together, see each other’s smiling faces year!

What makes me think so? Independent of the health context (I’d rather not mention that other word perpetually lurking out there), Shepherds comes off a celebratory 2021-22 school year and has many exciting and we hope valuable events planned for the coming fall and year. This newsletter provides some of those details but most of all I want to identify a few themes.

The first is the extraordinary outpouring of generosity of those of you who mentor and sponsor our Shepherds student. I refer both to the current Classes of 2023 to 2025 mentors and sponsors as well as the incoming Class of 2026 mentors. And the generosity I’m talking about is not just the financial support, which is gratefully recognized, but as importantly, the time and attention you give your students. The last two plus years took a toll on the well-being of this population of young people in particular. You responded! We’ve witnessed your increased time attention and expressions of caring in the academic, social and even emotional growth of the students these past two plus years. A collective and deserved thank you!

The second is the sense that this September we are taking another step on Shepherds’ 24-year journey of “changing lives…one student at a time.” We’ll have 63 Shepherds students this year, our largest group in the last six years, an equal number of mentors, solid financial funding, and an expanded program of educational, social, and college prep programs. I am also pleased to make several announcements regarding our team of professionals supporting you.

The 2022 -23-year theme that I hope all constituents can feel and take advantage of this year is the attention and care we give our mentors, both one-on-one and in group activities. Our goal is to provide more opportunities to spend quality time with your student. Your input and engagement with those initiatives are both requested and appreciated.

Let’s have a great year!


Dear Shepherds Friends,

We here in the northeast know this time of year is a season of transitions – a driving cold rain one day, 70 degrees and shorts the next, birds returning to wake us, but probably most noticeable are the brighter mornings and longer days…..

Translate that to our everyday life here at Shepherds and we have the close-out of a great winter sports season for our two schools (Kolbe Cathedral in State basketball finals, Notre Dame winning State Hockey Finals!), finally indoor mentor and student events, the return to touring colleges, and this year, say Hallelujah, a healthier environment and at least a mask-optional school life for our students!

What does Spring bring Shepherds?  The exciting news is that our seniors are receiving a great number of college admissions letters with financial packages coming in, our juniors are getting serious about their grades and their prep work for the college, freshmen and sophomore teams rebuilding variably dormant Covid relationships, and our mentors and staff are jumping in with more organized activities for students and mentors to enjoy time together.

Here in Bridgeport, my colleagues and I are very actively recruiting and screening new mentors and reviewing and interviewing student applications for the incoming Class of 2026.  With 15 students graduating and the strong momentum of our organization, we hope to bring in at least 20 students this fall. To do so, we continue to need your support financially and networking for mentors and donors to support this large class.  All ideas are welcomed!

Our deep appreciation as always goes to Shepherds mentors, parents, and our school partners for the guidance and support you provide our 61 Shepherds students. We look forward to seeing more of your smiles many times this spring!




Dear Shepherds Friend,

What do the Super Bowl, the onset of serious basketball, the anticipation of spring training,  and the lowering of masking requirements have in common?

Spring is almost here! The first three have been long with us, the last we hope is soon long gone! For many these late winter months can be dreary, but for Shepherds they’re never weary… this is when Shepherds hits its stride.

Our students are in the heart of their academic year. We’re especially proud of the 32 Shepherds students who made their school’s Honor Rolls for the first semester. Our 15 Shepherds Seniors have received an impressive number of college acceptances and now await their financial packages.

Shepherds Mentors are engaging their students with in-person lunches and outside activities that help expand our students’ world beyond Bridgeport and New Haven.  Shepherds school liaisons have organized several student – mentor opportunities as the Newsletter describes. This is also the time when we begin building the students and mentors for the incoming Class of 2026.

As we await warmer days and shorter nights, spring’s optimism for the future has already sprung at Shepherds! Thank you to all the mentors who joined us at the January ND Mentor Appreciation Game Night and the February KCHS Mentor Appreciation Cocktail party. Here’s to our Mentors!

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to the sunny skies and bright futures of our wonderful students.





Dear Shepherds Friend,

The start of 2022 brings with it a feeling of a fresh start, and I don’t think it is just this very chilly weather! We have a great many exciting things to look forward to in the new year.

Firstly, Shepherds is excited to announce that Shepherds Alumna Gina Garzon, Shepherds/Trinity High School Class of 2005, will be joining the Shepherds board of Directors. Gina will be a great resource to our program. The entire Shepherds community welcomes her talents, experience, and ideas.

Over the past two years, the Shepherds team and community has perfected our motto of, ‘Adapt, Innovate and Overcome.” The new year gives us another chance to build on what we’ve experienced and learned and do a better job at accomplishing our education, social, and development goals.

  • Education: Our school partners, in particular, have adapted and overcome. Kudos to them for achieving the priority of what is most important and most at risk for our young people. Both of our partner schools are back fully in-person in the classroom, following appropriate health safety protocols and precautions, and being flexible as needed for individual circumstances.
  • Our Shepherds Liaisons are closely tracking academic performance and intervening swiftly with helpful guidance and support as we approach the end of the first semester. All mentors are welcome to reach out to either Lisa Matson (KCHS) or Martie Giammatteo (NDWH) if they have concerns.
  • Social: On top of academic support, each school’s liaison is organizing fun student-mentor activities to encourage the post-holiday re-connection of our student-mentor teams. Recognizing the challenges that Omicron presents, flexibility and potential rescheduling are part of their game plans and will be communicated in advance. I encourage mentors and students to make the effort if all parties feel safe in the settings planned for events.
  • Development: There are two critical elements in addition to our students and their families that keep Shepherds going: Mentors and Money. This month we begin our recruiting process for mentors and financial sponsors for the Shepherds Class of 2026. We also begin the process of identifying prospective Shepherds students for this Class with our partner schools.

I invite all members of the Shepherds community to think about and invite any friends, family members, work colleagues whom they think might be interested      in joining the Shepherds team as a mentor or a financial sponsor to contact me or Jane MacDonald to discuss the opportunity.  KCHS mentors are welcome to      invite a mentor “candidate” to our Mentor Appreciation event on Feb 10. See below for more information.

Thank you to all mentors, students, families, our partner schools, and supporters for continuing to be such generous and considerate believers in the Shepherds’ mission. You are truly changing lives!





Dear Shepherds Friend,

Many often think Spring is the time of year that is full of new beginnings. But when your mission is facilitating the education of young people, Fall becomes that time of excitement and wonder about what is to come.

Earlier this month, we welcomed the eleven students of the Kolbe Cathedral Shepherds Class of 2025 and the five young men of Notre Dame Shepherds Class of 2025. At the time of publication, our Class of 2025 mentors have undergone most of their training, Kolbe Cathedral Shepherds Students and Mentors have met last Saturday for the first time, and Shepherds is preparing for Notre Dame’s new Shepherds Students and Mentors to meet this Saturday.

Beginnings aren’t just for the freshman. After a nearly a year and a half of hybrid/remote learning, distanced from their friends, teammates and teachers, sophomore, junior and senior Shepherds Students and Mentors are enjoying fresh starts too. New classes, new teachers, new challenges and new opportunities await Students and Mentors alike. Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and plan some fun outdoor activities. In this newsletter, you will find some great options to spend time together.

Putting brackets on the beginning and still evolving experience that Shepherds offers Mentors and Students, this month’s Newsletter features video interviews with Shepherds Board Director and Class of 2025 Mentor Tom Wynne and Shepherds Notre Dame Class of 2017 graduate Jerrell Dorsey (Babson College, ’21). If you want to see what makes Shepherds work and what makes it successful, watch these two short interviews.

Shepherds is kicking-off the school year with a fresh start too. We welcome a new Director of Development, Jane MacDonald. Jane has extensive experience in the non-profit fund raising world at major healthcare institutions and non-profits in the CT/NY metropolitan area. Jane brings drive, creativity, initiative to the critical role of helping us build the financial resources required for Shepherds to fulfill our mission of “Changing Lives … One Student at a Time.” I trust many of you will be getting to know Jane in the months ahead and are welcomed to contact her with any ideas or referrals.

And so the adventure of a new school year begins! Enjoy, have fun and, of course, be careful!

Dan McAuliffe



For over 20 years, generous donors have provided the ability for under-served but motivated young men and women like Reuben to be part of the Shepherds program.

This year, your participation in making that possible is more critical than ever.

Shepherds has a goal of bringing on 12 new students into our program this fall. To achieve this, we need to raise $60,000 by June 30th. Generous support from donors has brought us to $44,000 so far. With only a handful of days to go before our fiscal year ends, we are still $16,000 short of our goal.

You’ve probably thought “How can I make a difference in these highly unusual times in which we find ourselves?” Shepherds provides that opportunity.

Please consider making a generous donation today via PayPal or by mailing a check to Shepherds, P.O. Box 1756, Darien CT 06820.

Thank you for supporting more students like Reuben. Be part of the solution and help Change Lives.
Dan McAuliffe
Executive Director
Changing Lives…One Student at a Time.

mentoring tradition

Gina Garzon graduated from Trinity Catholic and the Shepherds program in 2005. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and MBA with a focus in Finance at University of Connecticut. She is first-generation college graduate and now is a a Vice President at TD Bank in NYC where she manages a portfolio of approximately $500MM in commercial real estate of various asset classes.

Gina began her banking career as a teller at local bank in New Canaan. “My mentor Kathy Pasternack helped me get my first banking job,” Gina claimed. “She is an amazing person, mentor, and friend. She has impacted my life and inspired me to do the same for others. My parents were incredibly supportive, but Kathy provided guidance and assistance they were unable to provide due to language and other resource issues”

Gina’s impressive resume doesn’t stop with her education and career. She has given back to her community. She has served on the board of Cardinal Sheehan Center and on the board of Prospanica, an organization which assists Hispanic students earn MBAs. Currently, she is mentoring a student through Big Brothers, Big Sisters in New York City. “Being a big sister to my little has been very gratifying. I am so happy to be giving back to others like Kathy helped me.”

Kathy Pasternack made a big impact on Gina’s life. You can make that same impact on another young person by becoming a mentor to a freshman this fall. Contact Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 to find out more about Shepherds and our impact on academically and economically-challenged students.


Jonathan is the embodiment of the Shepherds’ belief that education is the gift that keeps on giving – long after they graduate our program. He is a 2005 alumnus of Notre Dame West Haven High School and the Shepherds program. He has also given back to our program by becoming a mentor himself.

Jonathan continues to mentor in Charlotte, NC where he now lives via National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). NABA’s motto is ‘Lift as We Climb.’ “Being mentored opened up opportunities I did not know about or our family didn’t have the means to provide. I am continuing that tradition by mentoring young black accounting students,” claimed Jonathan.

Mentoring changes lives. You can too! Become a Shepherds mentor for a student in the freshman class beginning this fall. Contact Dan McAuliffe at info@shepherdsmentors.org or call 203-367-4273.

Longtime student mentor

Greg has been mentoring students from Notre Dame West Haven in the Shepherds program for over a decade. “It is very satisfying to provide guidance to a young person and see him grow and develop into a young man.” A NDWH graduate himself, he values the education of the hearts and minds the high school provides. When paired with a caring Shepherds mentor, the possibilities are endless for the students.

Mentoring a high school student can change a life. You can too! Shepherds is recruiting mentors for the class of 2024 beginning this fall. By becoming a mentor, you are doing your part to ensure that today’s students have the tools and support they need to succeed. Join us today by contacting Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at info@shepherdsmentors.org or call 203-367-4273.