Summer is Risky Time of Year for Impoverished Youth, say Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches are especially vulnerable during summer months. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have provided food and fun -- along with newly imagined futures -- to these children for decades.
Sister Kathy O'Hagan (left) operates the Web of Life Learning Center in West VA.
Sister Kathy O'Hagan (left) operates the Web of Life Learning Center in West VA.
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* Ipswich - Massachusetts - US

IPSWICH, Mass. - July 1, 2013 - PRLog -- Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Joyce McMullen works with inner city children who are afraid to play at neighborhood playgrounds.  Too many of their friends and family members have been injured or killed by street violence. That’s why, as director of the social service agency Project Care and Concern in Boston, Mass., Sister Joyce sponsors at-risk children for summer camps far removed from urban crime.

With fun activities and educational programs, the camps are ‘door-openers’ to newly imagined futures. Every year, through Project Care and Concern, Sister Joyce identifies and places as many as 100 low-income, inner city children in residential camps. She has seen first-hand how well they respond.    

“Some children burst into tears when it’s time to go home,” says Sister Joyce. “Some come to me on the first day of September to ask if I can place them in a camp for the next summer.  It speaks well for the experience if they hate to leave camp and can’t wait to return.”

The same dynamics are at play in the mountains of West Virginia, where Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Kathy O’Hagan operates the Web of Life Learning Center. She begins volunteering with local schools in the fall in order to identify and place children in her program the following summer. Web of Life Learning Center serves about fifty impoverished Appalachian children every year.

“Summer can be particularly troublesome for low-income families,” says Sister Kathy. “There simply isn’t any money for child care. There often isn’t any money for food. There certainly isn’t any money for fun.”

Since 60 percent of the children she serves are eligible for free breakfasts and lunches during the school year, Sister Kathy provides free nutritional meals along with the camp’s traditional fare of arts-and-crafts, swimming lessons and guided hikes. Web of Life Summer Camp is free for all attendees, which is why funding from supporters is critical.

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Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international Congregation of women religious, founded by St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) in Amiens, France in 1804.  The Congregation is committed to making known God’s goodness through education in a variety of ministries. Sisters serve on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and work to change lives by a “fundamental commitment to stand with our sisters and brothers who live in poverty and accompany them in their struggle.” Offices/centers are located in Rome, ITALY, Namur, BELGIUM and Ipswich, MA, USA.  Visit our web site at:
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