With the closing of our school in June of 2011, the alumni committee was forced to re-visit the mission of our Alumni Association. Up to this point, we have worked successfully to improve the physical condition of the school building and to provide, in some small way, financial support whenever possible.
While that was a daunting challenge - considering the age of the building and the never-ending financial pressures of running the school - the challenge that lies before us is greater still. How are we to support Catholic Education in the parish of our childhood with no school?
After much discussion and careful deliberation, the alumni committee has decided to continue its mission and re-direct its efforts to the establishment of the St. Mary’s Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Simply stated, all future revenue generated by our efforts (net of our minimal operating costs) shall be restricted to capitalizing a scholarship fund dedicated to assisting needy families of St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Gertrude Parish in meeting the tuition costs for their children to attend neighboring Catholic grammar schools. In this way, we not only continue to support Catholic Education in Far Rockaway, but also strengthen the schools in our surrounding parishes.
Annual fundraising, of course, will remain difficult, but the logistics of the scholarship fund will be easy: we will partner with the Diocese of Brooklyn Futures in Education Foundation. Through the Be an Angel to a Student program, students from financially struggling families receive a partial scholarship while parents remain responsible for the remainder of the tuition costs. As an Angel to our students, we will receive progress reports, holiday cards, drawings and letters from the students we support. The pastor and his director of religious education (DRE) will be responsible for selecting the students.
The foundation website indicates that some 2,600 students in our inner city parishes, including St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Gertrude, are waiting for Angels. By becoming Angels, we can make a direct and lasting impact on the life of an at-risk youngster. Every dollar we contribute goes directly toward the cost of tuition. Angels contribute $1,500 per year to a student's tuition and usually make a multi-year commitment. Gifts can also be made in honor or memory of a loved one, and we can specify the school or student we wish to assist.
All in all, we believe this to be a true win/win solution to addressing the challenge of the recent closing of St. Mary Star of the Sea School. We hope you’ll agree and continue to support us in our efforts!St. Mary’s Alumni Association