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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Welcome to the beginning of a new school year! This is an exciting time as Shepherds welcomes sixteen new young people to our Shepherds’ Class of 2025. We’ve all been highly impressed and encouraged the by way this class of students has bonded in two programs held this two summer – Shepherds’ Cougar Camp for Kolbe Cathedral freshman in August and the Notre Dame’s Summer Xperience held earlier this summer.
It is also an exciting time because our recently graduated Class of 2021 is launching into the next phase of their academic careers. We’ve had a few of these Shepherds graduates stop by our office and it’s been wonderful to see the excitement and confidence they have about their futures. Seeing our graduates achieving their dreams makes all of us at Shepherds very proud of them.
In this newsletter you will see two stories reflecting our past. These stories highlight the enduring nature of what the Shepherds program provides both the student and the mentor. One is about former Shepherds Board Member and Mentor, Ruby Melton. Ruby and her mentee, Ernie Santiago NDWH ’18, remain close friends as he finishes up his degree in nursing at Quinnipiac University. Another look back comes from KCHS ’16 alumnus Jason Howell. In a recent Zoom interview, he discusses the importance of his mentor for life, Tom Luciano. These stories reassure me that we are succeeding in our mission.
As we begin the new school year full of great hope and anticipation, we are obviously still saddled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our school partners are doing a wonderful job ensuring the academic environment is as normal as possible during this time. We are grateful for their hard work.
While the school year ahead may have some bumps in the road here and there, Shepherds is confident that together with our school partners, our Shepherds Mentors and Students, we can navigate the challenges ahead. “Adapt, Innovate, and Overcome” remains Shepherds’ motto this year and it reflects a deep commitment to our mission of Changing Lives…One Student at a Time – no matter what curves life throws our way. Thank you for your many and generous contributions of time and treasure, and most of all your caring!
The Shepherds Class of 2021 is filled with 17 talented students: a salutatorian, a senior class president, many honor roll students, competitive athletes, engaged community members, entrepreneurs, and above all, high school graduates. These graduates have amazing plans for themselves post-graduation. Watch the video above to find out more.
Shepherds wants to continue to help close the opportunity gap in Bridgeport and New Haven. We are asking for your financial support to help us make an impact in your own backyard.
A donation in support of a Shepherds Student’s education TODAY will have a lasting impact on that student’s TOMORROW.
Please consider a donation in any amount. We are so thankful for you and so are our students.
Shepherds is thrilled to announce that both Kolbe Cathedral and Notre Dame High School will have in-person events to celebrate the accomplishments of Shepherds Seniors.
Due to COVID considerations, this year’s celebrations will be limited to no more than two adults per student household, the student and their mentor. Unfortunately, we will not be able to invite the full communities this year, but we hope to live-stream the event so everyone can participate.
Invitations and further details will be sent out via invitations.
The month of April normally brings many positive themes to our attention – longer days, warmer sun, birds chirping early in the morning, and a budding optimism for the coming months. This year obviously brings all those normal occurrences but with the added cautious optimism of a world recovering from a pandemic health crisis.
For our Shepherds students and community, this spring also brings the opportunity to be back in the classroom more, to engage in team sports, and for students and mentors to see each other in outdoor settings. We again congratulate our students, their families, mentors, our school partners for the good faith effort all put into making this past year as successful as one could hope.
With that renewed sense of optimism and self-confidence, it’s time to call upon on this collective strength of the Shepherds community to help build for the school year 2021 – 2022. As you might realize from the financial and personal repercussions of the last year, the need for a quality education in a safe environment, for a positive role model in the life of a young person and the support of an organization where the 14 year old high school student is the “franchise player” has rarely been greater.
What I am asking is simply to invite our Shepherds family to spread the word about what Shepherds does, the opportunity it provides to underserved individuals, the impact it makes “changing lives”, and the rewards it bestows on students, mentors and donors alike. Being part of the Shepherds team does require tangible effort and resources; the rewards, however, are immeasurable intangibles!
We are now interviewing over 15 students and expect more to be seeking to participate in Shepherds’ Class of 2025. We are seeking mentors and financial resources to meet that demand. The Shepherds’ story sells itself. Thank you for passing it along.
With your assistance we can again prove that We are Better Together, in every sense and application of those words.
Long time partners, Shepherds and Notre Dame High School have teamed up once again to bring you a dynamic panel discussion sharing the ways mentoring can have a critical impact on youth in your community. To find out more about this event, including our guest panelists, please review our flyer.
To sign up for this free event, please fill out the contact information below. Please note: if accessing via mobile or tablet and you do not see “Submit” button, just hit “Enter” and your registration will be submitted and you will see a thank you screen.