Tag Archives: Tag: Freshman

Mentor Training

Mentoring young people relies upon the power of interpersonal connections with their mentors. Maintaining those connections can be challenging during COVID and creating new ones can prove to be even trickier. Shepherds has met these challenges head-on for our new mentors for the students of the Shepherds Class of 2024.

Shepherds has a robust training program for mentors, students and their families which normally takes place in person. COVID has changed our training program to a hybrid of virtual and in-person training which has required some adjustments. We are happy to report that our new mentors and freshman students have begun making solid personal connections.

Zoom meetings kicked off mentor training with a focus on mentoring expectations and mentoring in safe virtual and in-person environments. Our staff was impressed with how engaged our mentors were during these sessions. Up next were parent and student training sessions followed up with in-person meetings for most and a virtual meet up for one mentor, student and parent.

When mentors, students and parents met for the first time, it became clear that it is easy to be social and get to know another and still stay six feet apart. Shepherds Staff witnessed the beginning of new relationships and being physically distant, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer didn’t change a thing.

Cougar Camp 2020 kicked-off the school year for Shepherds Class of 2024 at Kolbe Cathedral High School.

KCHS faculty, Shepherds Staff and Students all observed the proper COVID safety procedures of keeping at least 6 feet apart and wearing face coverings. Despite social distancing, students and staff were still quite social!

Getting to know their fellow Shepherds Classmates and participate in fun STEM-oriented classroom activities were top priorities on the first day of Cougar Camp. In ‘the getting to know each other activities,’ led by Shepherds Liaison Lisa Matson, students learned first-hand that physical distancing from each other doesn’t prevent one from being social.

Executive Director Dan McAuliffe stated, “Cougar Camp is a great opportunity for our newest Shepherds Students to make new friends and get comfortable in their new school. I was very happy to see students together, in person and not in a virtual setting. Lisa Matson and the KCHS staff did a great job in accomplishing their objectives.”

Shepherds Students also became familiar with the KCHS technology environment, their Google Chromebooks, funded by our generous Shepherds Donors, and safe usage of their devices. A tour of the school was given by staff to be sure our Shepherds Freshman are comfortable navigating around their new school.

Stay tuned to learn more about the rest of the Cougar Camp 2024 week’s activities!

director announcement

Dear Shepherds Friends:

Here we are in the heart and the heat of the summer… with not much else certain other than the sun will come up tomorrow and it will probably be warm if it’s not raining.

But here’s what we can tell you:

  • We had an excellent response to our call for mentors and funding for the incoming Shepherds Class of 2024. We are bringing on a total 14 new students in the fall, 10 at Kolbe Cathedral High School and four at Notre Dame West Haven. This will increase Shepherds total population by four students to 65 students for academic year 2020-21.
  • Each of these students and their families were selected on the basis of financial need, academic potential, and most importantly, their demonstrated desire and commitment to be successful. We look forward to them joining the Shepherds family in a few weeks.
  • Most gratifying has been the many inquiries we had from prospective mentors and financial sponsors to make this large new Class possible. The willingness to make a four year commitment to change a young person’s life that has been most inspiring to us. One of the many emails from a prospective mentor captured the thought this way:

“.…Education is the ultimate “equalizer”.  We as a society must ensure that all people have access to quality education and can participate fully in our society.  Recent events have shown that we as a country are still far from where we need to be.  I am moved  to help by potentially becoming a Shepherd and sponsor and would like to learn more about your program.”

 He’s signed up! 

  • Thanks to the generosity of respondents to the spring appeal, the financial commitments made by a great number of our new mentors, and a substantial donation from one very generous family, we were put over the top for our Shepherds Class of 2024 goal of $60,000.


What do we see for the last half of the summer?

  • We await information from our partner schools on the details of their re-opening plans.
  • Kolbe Cathedral Shepherds Class of 2024 Cougar Camp is planned for August 17 -21.
  • Most importantly, our students still need the attention of their mentors this summer. Letting them know you’re thinking of them will be a great boost to their morale.

You can also help us expand our network of friends by sharing one of our Facebook posts with your Facebook friends, sharing a Shepherds LinkedIn posting with your connections, or by forwarding this e-newsletter to friends, colleagues, and relatives. Let’s give more people the opportunity to change a life!

Best wishes for a continued safe, healthy and hopefully enjoyable summer.

Dan McAuliffe
Executive Director

(203) 367-4273

Mentor a student

It has been six years since Mark Healey and Celia Pinzi became mentors to NDWH ’18 student Reuben Clark. Shepherds spoke to Mark and Reuben recently to ask about how being in the Shepherds’ program impacted them.

It has been an absolute joy to watch Reuben change from a shy young freshman, to the accomplished college student, college football player and entrepreneur he is today,” stated Mark. “I got a lot more out of being Reuben’s mentor than I realized. Reuben and I still talk and get together. Recently, I reached out to him during the protests about social, racial and economic inequalities. I wanted him to know that Celia and I support him.

Reuben attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is currently taking three summer classes and has started up one e-commerce business selling jewelry, created a business that repairs cell phone screens and is in the process of rebranding a clothing line he created. “Mr. Mark really helped me with time management and taught me how to network,” claimed Reuben. “They are like family to me. I love them to death.”

When asked what they would tell a person who is considering becoming a mentor, both had similar answers. “If you want to help shape the life of a young man, become a pillar of support and create genuine change in his life, become a Shepherds mentor to a NDWH student,” said Reuben. Mark agreed, “It is so satisfying that I played a part in Reuben’s growth. It is amazing that a couple hours a month can have such an enormous impact on a young person.”

Shepherds needs five mentors for the upcoming freshman NDWH class. Join our team of caring mentors to make a positive impact on a Notre Dame man this Fall. To find out more, contact Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or info@shepherdsmentors.org.


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.

Shepherds, a non-profit based in Bridgeport, has supported the education and success of inner-city teens from the New Haven and Bridgeport areas for 20 years. During National Mentoring Month, Shepherds students will celebrate the role that mentors play in their lives with a Mentor Appreciation Night at Notre Dame West Haven High School. Mentors make a monthly commitment of time and energy to an individual student and receive professional training and extensive staff support throughout their four-year commitment.

Results over 20 years have demonstrated that Shepherds students have a much higher likelihood of graduating from high school, pursuing higher education, breaking the cycle of poverty and becoming productive members of society. Since 1998, 265 students who might otherwise have dropped out of high school have graduated and gone on to institutions of higher learning, military or civil service roles.

Shepherds is committed to helping these students achieve their potential through a high quality, college preparatory curriculum, go on to higher education, and eventually become valuable and productive members of society. Fifteen adult mentors are needed for students beginning high school in September of 2019.

Financial sponsors are always needed to help to defray tuition costs and provide additional supports and services throughout the school year including test prep and remedial supports. If you are open to making a valuable impact on a young person’s life and reaping the personal rewards that come with it, please contact Dan McAuliffe, Shepherds’ Executive Director, by April 15th. You can reach Dan by email dmcauliffe@shepherdsmentors.org or call him at 203-367-4273.

Mentoring can be sweet – really sweet! Kolbe Cathedral freshmen (L-R) Valentina, Annaclaudia, Quiana and Lauren gathered at the Fairfield home of Quiana’s mentor, Marlene Kimberly along with Valentina’s mentor, Sara Tieke, Annaclaudia’s mentor, Hetty Nerod, and Lauren’s mentor, Laura Canning for some serious Christmas Cookie baking. Merry Christmas to all of our students, staff, mentors and families.

Shepherds and Notre Dame West Haven High School held their annual Back to School evening on Tuesday, September 18th. Students, new and old, joined their mentors, families and staff from both organizations to celebrate the beginning of a new school year.

Six young men make up our Shepherds Class of 2022. The group is particularly close having spent the previous several years together at St. Martin de Porres School in New Haven. The students were able to meet their mentors and listen to words of encouragement from school president Robert Curis and Shepherds Executive Director Dan McAuliffe. Thank you to all who made this evening so special.

Pictured Left to Right are freshmen: Cristian Solorzano, Alan Lopez, Carlos Freire, Jose Baselca, David Maita and Christopher Velez.

Notre Dame HS in West Haven welcomed 5 incoming Shepherds freshmen to the Class of 2021and will hold a Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 13 from 6-8:00PM. We wish all of our students and mentors as well as their families and the staff at NDWH a happy and healthy school year!

This year Kolbe Cathedral High School welcomed 11 incoming Shepherds freshmen to the Class of 2021. Kick Off Night for mentors, students and families is Thursday, September 28 from 6-8:00PM. Wishing all a successful, healthy and happy new school year!