Funding Needs

BIG LAUREL REPAIRS AND RENOVATIONS– PROGRESS!

GREAT NEWS! SINCE THIS WAS PUBLISHED, AND THANKS TO INTERESTED DONORS, $1035 DOLLARS HAS BEEN RAISED TOWARDS THE TOTAL NEED OF $3500 FOR THE BUNKHOUSE AND GREENHOUSE RENOVATIONS! THAT IS ONE-THIRD OF THE WAY TO BIG LAUREL’S GOAL! CAN YOU HELP PUSH US THE REST OF THE WAY BY DONATING TODAY? WE ARE HAPPY TO THANK OUR DONORS PUBLICLY OR YOU CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS, BUT YOUR GENEROSITY WILL HELP CHILDREN EITHER WAY.

There is an urgent need for funding for repairs to the Big Laurel (Learning) Center, and we are asking for your help.   From our past articles, friends of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur should be familiar with The Big Laurel Learning Center.  For our new friends and supporters, a little background is provided:

 Started as a community-based school for local children in 1976, Big Laurel is steeped in Appalachian heritage and looks outward to a larger world. Eventually evolving into the Big Laurel Learning Center, the Center continues the traditions of education, ecology, and heritage. Sister Kathleen O’Hagan, SNDDeN and Sr. Gretchen Shaffer, OSJ are resident at the Center and are involved in its many great activities and service to the Appalachian community. Grace Williams is the Center’s current Director. Today, Big Laurel is accessible to people of all ages, but in order to carry on its activities, repairs to its facility are needed.  

Big Laurel provides a space for celebration, reflection, and learning for many groups and individuals throughout the year. Big Laurel summer camps get kids outside and exploring a 400-acre environmental land trust in Central Appalachia, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. Through games, guidance, and hands-on activities, participants discover the region’s rich natural heritage and create lasting memories.

Hiking at the little boys’ camp
Painting at the big girls’ camp

By providing service immersions for high school and college students from across the US, Big Laurel hopes to open their eyes to some of the injustices in this world and the systems in place that make and keep people poor. Big Laurel also houses retreats, including addiction recovery retreats in an area at the heart of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Immersion Group from the Appalachian Institute

Specifically, repairs are needed to the small bunkhouse and the greenhouse, pictured below.  The small bunkhouse can sleep up to six people. Located 150 yards from the main guest house, this charming space often houses the camp mentors, retreat participants and seasonal guest. Because this building was constructed primarily from repurposed materials, there are a few parts that need to be updated such as the widows and the tin roof. Specifically, the three small and two large windows do not close. Every winter, Big Laurel has to attach separate sheets of Plexiglas to keep the cold out. The windows need to be replaced with modern windows.  The tin roof is also in poor condition and needs to be completely replaced.

Little Bunkhouses – side windows

The greenhouse that is attached to the back of the bunkhouse is used to start seeds for Big Laurel’s school learning garden and for the Center’s on-site vegetable garden, the electrical wiring needs repair so that the heaters and grow lights can keep the seedling warm during the cold early spring nights. The clear greenhouse roof also has sections that need to be replaced.

There are no extra funds in the Center’s operating budget for these repairs. We are asking friends of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and anyone interested in protecting the cultural and ecological heritage of this amazing region to help us “crowdfund” this repair.  Using a local contractor (and thereby keeping one in this poor community), the Center Director and Sisters estimate that materials and labor for the project would run $3500.

We invite 100 people who care about this work and this region to donate $35 each and “buy” a share in restoring the bunkhouse and greenhouse in time for this summer, when the Center hopes to be receiving visitors and campers once more ( pandemic permitting). If you want to honor a family member, a SNDDeN sister who taught you, or Sister Kathy O’Hagan, contact the development office and we will give you credit as a donor on our website. To donate, click here. We will keep you apprised of the progress we make towards our goal!

Support for Sisters Academy of Baltimore

Sisters Academy of Baltimore (“Sisters Academy”) , a Catholic, community-centered middle school, educates girls of diverse backgrounds, from families of limited economic means, particularly those in southwest Baltimore. The Academy empowers its students to become future leaders and agents of transformation in their families, communities, and society.

As one of the four sponsoring congregations of women religious, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur provide necessary financial support to provide scholarships to these students.  Sisters Academy is open to girls of all races and religious backgrounds. Your donations enable the Sisters to maintain and grow their support to important  local ministries like Sisters Academy.

As this message below from Tamauri Beasley-Foster, (Sisters Academy – Class of 2016, Senior, Institute of Notre Dame) indicates, Sisters Academy prepares these young women well for a bright future.

“As I finish up my senior year at the Institute of Notre Dame, I find myself reminiscing over the last 4 years. I’ve played volleyball all four years, basketball for two years, and I’ve been on the track team for two years. I have served as a student ambassador, taken several honors and AP classes, and have completed over 90 community service hours. I am the president of a new club called the “INDie Force,” which is a hip hop dance team that I started. I am a member of the Project Lead the Way Program studying Biomedical Science, which I look forward to studying in college at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in California this fall. These last four years were filled with success and character growth, and I couldn’t have done it without the help and preparation from Sisters Academy.”

A student in class…and on her way!

Can you help?

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are placing a particular emphasis on supporting the Sisters Academy of Baltimore in the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to donate now. https://www.snddentriprov.org/donate/ or contact the Tri-Province Development office at 410-486-7285.