Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation

 My name is Ashlie, and I was a Notre Dame Mission Volunteer with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 2015. My time of service was spent at Julie’s Family Learning Program in South Boston, Massachusetts. This volunteer time was an eye opening experience for me, and has inspired me to share what I learned there. I saw families growing and learning, bettering the future for themselves and their children. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur in 1974, Julie’s Family Learning Program is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides services to aid financially and otherwise struggling mothers in the surrounding community. Co-founders, Sisters Louise Kearns and Jean Sullivan have lived their lives among lower income families, and witnessed first-hand, the everyday struggles of women, particularly single mothers and children. They have dedicated their lives to serving these women and their children, giving their time at Julie’s every day. 

A significant number of participants in the program struggle with addiction and recovery issues and work hard with the members of Julie’s staff to break that cycle in their family, transforming into independent, stable, healthy leaders of their families.

The Program is inspired by the butterfly, and uses it to compare the transformation many families go through when attending the program. At Julie’s, the vision of Saint Julie Billiart, foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, is carried on through the work the program accomplishes and the goals it sets. Julie’s provides over twenty different adult and children’s services including career counseling, college preparation, academic tutoring, GED test preparation, assistance in parenting skills, wellness and nutrition classes and post alumni services.

Julie’s Family Learning Program is not only there to help mothers, but addresses the needs of their children as well. In the same building mothers go to for assistance, they can find licensed infant and toddler child development centers as well as a fully certified Montessori pre-school. Family Literacy takes place once a month and promotes the desire to learn and encourages children and their mothers to seek different ways to learn and grow together.

During my time spent there, I got a strong sense of togetherness, teamwork and above all, empathy and understanding of one another’s life struggles. Julie’s mission statement says it all: “Julie’s is a community-based family support and education program that is committed to the development of strong, stable, healthy family functioning. Julie’s provides services that enable poor, at-risk mothers and their children to transform their lives and become healthy, successful, and economically self-sufficient members of their communities.”

For more information about Julie’s Family Learning Program: www.juliesfamily.org

 For more information about Notre Dame Mission Volunteers: www.ndmva.org 

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