For Emily Doell, sophomore at Seton Hill University in Pittsburgh, giving back to her community has always been an important part of her life. She describes her childhood as a happy one full of many blessings including loving, attentive parents and role models. Emily has attended Catholic schools throughout her childhood and started volunteering early on. As a high school student at Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y., she put her desire to help others into action at Notre Dame Learning Center, tutoring English to students in the area.
When asked why she chose the Notre Dame Learning Center, Emily explained that she grew up in the heart of the city of Rochester and was aware of the hardships that many children there face.
“The childhood poverty rate is pretty high, there isn’t enough support at home, kids are coming from broken homes, single parent homes. I could at least try to help at the Learning Center,” she said.
The Notre Dame Learning Center is a sponsored ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Sisters Evelyn Breslin, Mary Lou Brien and Mary Smith along with more than 80 volunteers from all walks of life provide one-on-one tutoring in language arts, reading, math and technology to children in the Rochester City School District. The Center also provides a preparation program for young adults seeking to receive a New York State high school equivalency diploma.
Located on the third floor of the Charles Settlement House, in one of Rochester's oldest and poorest neighborhoods, no one at the Learning Center is turned away.
“I know the children who come to the Center really benefit from the caring support the volunteers and sisters provide,” Emily said.
In addition to her desire to give back to her community, Emily is also an avid golfer, coming in third place at the Westminster Invitational in Pennsylvania last year. She was recently awarded an academic scholarship from Upstate Golf Charities to attend college and presented with a $2,500 gift for the nonprofit organization of her choice. Without hesitation Emily contacted her favorite community service organization.
Sister Evelyn Breslin, executive director of Notre Dame Learning Center said, “Emily was so happy to present this check to Notre Dame Learning Center. She is a beautiful and caring young woman who wants to help others in any way she can.”
When asked what she most appreciated about working with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Emily said, “the value the sisters place on education. I saw what they did for the community and in turn, what it did for the kids. The kids really benefit, whether mastering basic principles in math and English or having an opportunity to talk with someone who cares.” She continued, “I want to make a difference. I want them to be successful more than anything.”