Unlike most other children who spend Thursday afternoons after school playing with their friends or relaxing, the students at Beginning and Beyond Child Development Center are working on their homework.
That has been the routine at the center for the last four years, thanks to three Cardinal Gibbons student volunteers – Gabriella Pistone ’18 and sisters Cassandra Lupia ’18 and Victoria Lupia ’18. (pictured above) The trio, now seniors, took the bold step as freshmen to initiate a tutoring program for four- to ten-year-old students at the center. To them, it was an effective way of giving disadvantaged youngsters the help they deserve not only to succeed academically, but also to make a difference in their lives.
“The goal of the program is to help the kids grow and be there for them … no matter what… to be something good and constant in their lives,” Pistone ’18 explained. “It is our job not only to help them with their homework but to care about them.”
Cassandra Lupia ’18 agreed and said, “We also want to let them have someone they could talk to and confide in. We try pairing the same student with the same tutor each week to provide consistency in the students’ lives.”
“Our goal is to give back to children who have so little… I don’t just mean we give them an hour and fifteen minutes of our time, I mean we give them chances to receive one-on-one time with someone they love and who they know loves them back,” said Victoria Lupia '18
Her sister Victoria Lupia ’18 added, “Our goal is to give back to the children who have so little… I don’t just mean we give them an hour and fifteen minutes of our time, I mean we give them chances to receive one-on-one time with someone they love and who they know loves them back.”
In the time since it was launched the tutoring program has grown tremendously, increasing from just a few volunteers to over 30 regular volunteers each week. Additionally, over the last year, clubs as well as sports teams have volunteered at the center to teach the youngsters about robotics and drama, among other subjects. The three founding members describe the growth of the program as amazing!
They are also confident the tutoring sessions and the legacy of serving and caring for the youngsters will continue after they graduate, only with a new group of leaders. Those leaders are Amanda Karazine ’19, Caroline Kelly ’19, Gabriela Shorten ’19, and Joey Taffe ’19.
“ … We believe they will carry out the program in the way we intended when we started it,” Cassandra Lupia '18 said, adding that they will live out the school’s mission of faith, service, and leadership. "They
will do the work of God and help others.”
All three seniors also said starting the tutoring sessions has had an impact on them. They said they are blessed to have been given the opportunity, “to touch the lives of these children,” and to see how "a small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life.” The children, they added are inspirational.
Gary Meyerl ’82, Director of Outreach Ministry, said he is most grateful for these students, their leadership, and the legacy they are leaving behind, “What a gift for Gabriella, Cassandra, and Victoria to see a need as freshmen and share the joy of education with these students through their service to others.”