It's that time of year again as bicyclists throughout Greater Boston are readying themselves for the Rodman Ride, including Catholic Charities Laboure Center's own Sister Maryadele Robinson. This will be Sister Maryadele's seventh Rodman Ride, and, as usual, she has been training faithfully for months to prepare for this non-competitive 25, 50 or 100 mile bike ride through southeast Massachusetts. A sports enthusiast, Sister Maryadele was thrilled to learn that Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady is the Ride's honorary chair this year, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
Don Rodman, local businessman, philanthropist, and member of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, has supported social service agencies that support at-risk children in Massachusetts for many years. Never forgetting his Mattapan roots, Don began the Rodman Ride for Kids in 1991 as a way to engage the community in this collaborative effort to raise much needed funds for non-profit organizations across the region, including Catholic Charities. The Rodman Ride for Kids' mission: "to have every kid in our communities live as we would want our own kids to live."
Kids like Bethany, a bright, engaging 15-year-old and newcomer to the community with nine younger siblings she not only helped care for, but also was committed to setting a positive example for. Bethany came to the Laboure Centers' T.E.A.M. (Together Engaging Adolescents through Mentoring) program in 2008 in search of a mentor who could be her own positive example by teaching her new things, taking her to new places, and helping her enjoy life to the fullest.
The goal of the T.E.A.M. program is to enhance the resiliency of youth by fostering increased self-esteem, school attachment, and the ability to make positive life choices. The program matches South Boston youth, ages 10-16, with caring, adult mentors who are asked to make a minimum one year commitment to the relationship.
Bethany was matched with Katie, a vibrant young social work professional with a passion for helping others. Katie, who helped support Bethany as she worked towards her many personal and academic goals is described by Bethany as having "always been there for [her] whenever [she] needed her. Whether it was just for someone to talk to, lean on, or simply hang out with." Bethany considers Katie not only a mentor but a part of her family.
Bethany embraced all that T.E.A.M. had to offer, including serving on its Junior Planning Advisory Council. Bo Nicholson, program director, explains that Bethany took her leadership development very seriously during the planning and facilitation of several events for youth in our program. She was not only keenly aware of her role shaping herself as a leader, but was also highly supportive and helpful with the other participants, wanting them to have positive, meaningful experiences of their own.
Today, Bethany is enjoying her very first "college student summer" after successfully completing her freshman year at Boston College, where she is following in the footsteps of her mentor Katie by majoring in social work.
It is young people like Bethany that inspire Sister Maryadele to keep up her early morning workouts as she prepares for the Rodman Ride. Sister Maryadele will be joined by Jim Dial, Emily Feigenberg, Eric Johnson, Jeff Kaneb, Anna Kaneb, Bo Nicholson and Barry Veronesi on behalf of Catholic Charities. Now in our eighth year of participation, Catholic Charities has a fundraising goal of $120,000 to support our programming. The Ride will match 10 percent of the dollars raised and underwrite all costs for the event. That means that 110 percent of your donation goes directly to Catholic Charities' youth serving programs, including our summer camp and our mentoring, tutoring, afterschool and street worker outreach programs.
We are all very proud of Bethany, and thankful for the ways that the Rodman Ride makes a difference in the lives of so many young people like her with the critical support that programs receive through such generosity.
Deborah Kincade Rambo is the President of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston. To learn more about the work Catholic Charities go to www.ccab.org.