“One must always extend their hand to others!”

My name is Gay Crowley. Twenty years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom to my three young children craving an opportunity to make a difference outside my home. Having been raised to believe one must always extend their hand to others and use their personal gifts, whatever they may be, I found myself reflecting: what might work for me at this stage of my life? How could I give back, engage in the world beyond my family and still be present for them? During dinner with friends, my husband and I were told about an amazing middle school for girls in Dorchester, Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center. According to our friends, this was the place for me. Subsequently, I toured the school, joined the 7th graders at a Red Sox game, and fell in love with the students. My friends were right!

I have benefited from mentors in my life from a 90-year-old neighbor I affectionately referred to as Grandpa Jones to Dale and Jeanne Goldhabe, my professors at University of Vermont. Unable to make a daily trek to Dorchester with my children, I began to reflect on the enormous role Grandpa Jones and Dale and Jeanne Goldhaber played in my life. Through them I strengthened my sense of humanity, family values, love of learning, trust, and self-empowerment.This reflective process gave way to my calling to develop a mentoring program at MCAEC. Mentoring would become my opportunity to extend my hand to the young women of Mother Caroline Academy.

With support from MCAEC’s Board of Trustees, in 2006 as a volunteer I founded MCAEC’s Mentoring Program. After several years of hard work building the program, my mentee, Dulce Depina, a MCA Class of 2001 graduate, stepped into the role of Mentoring Program and Alumni Relations Coordinator. After graduating from MCA, Dulce attended The Woodward School and graduated from the University of Delaware in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Global Studies.

The relationship Dulce and I have shared over the years has enriched my life beyond measure.My commitment to mentor, to help a young woman grow strong, ultimately made me a stronger person. At this stage of the game, I find it is often Dulce mentoring me. Mentoring is a slow build. It takes time to build any bridge, and when that bridge involves an adolescent and an adult, a mix of cultures, and various other factors, patience and perseverance are keys to success.

If you are a woman looking to make a difference in a young woman’s life, I hope you will join me along with a wonderful group of MCA mentors in extending not only your hand, but your life experiences and support to a student.

Gay Crowley