Where We Serve
Austin Scholars serve at several local organizations surrounding Merrimack College.
Interested in learning more?
As a scholar, you will have the opportunity to choose your service site from an approved list. The service is varied so our participating students can have a broad range of experiences.
Hands to Help
Merrimack College’s hands to help in collaborations with St. Mary’s Parish in Lawrence includes drop-in center that provides after-school tutoring, tax assistance, general form assistance, and more. Each weekday Hands to Help has approximately 25 children visit for homework help and after-school activities. Hands to Help provides one-on-one or small group tutoring for children in 1ist through 8th grade in all subjects. Additionally, Hands to Help acts as an information referral site to other local non-profits and offers resources, such as computers, for public use.
Blessed Stephen Bellesini Academy
Bellesini Academy is an independent, tuition-free Catholic middle school providing quality scholarship education to deserving boys and girls in grades five through eight in Lawrence. Bellesini Academy is dedicated to providing a quality scholarship education to students from limited financial means living in Lawrence. The mission of the school is to provide an academically challenging and highly structured environment that develops the potential for each student to succeed in competitive secondary schools and colleges. The Academy is named in honor of Stephan Bellesini, a 19th century Augustine friar who dedicated many years to the education of young boys from disadvantaged families in Italy. His school was known as la scola por gnet, or “The School for Nothing.” because it was tuition free.
Helps nearly 30,000 people in need from Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill and surrounding communities annually through a wide range of services. The programs at Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities strive to prevent hunger and homelessness for local families in a financial emergency; engage young parents through skill building and education; provide elders support as they raise their grandchildren; and support families in their effort to build safe, nurturing environments as they follow their own path back to self-sufficiency.
“I go to the Catholic Charities Young Parent Program. I teach young women from the ages of 16-23 in order for them to receive their GED. I teach them reading, writing, math, and social studies. All of the women I work with are absolutely amazing. They all have so much courage and determination for coming back to school and wanting to better themselves and their lives. Not only do they do this for themselves but they do this so that their children can live better lives as well. I could not picture myself going to any other service site. The women I work with have taught me so many valuable life lessons, and they have all helped me.” –Megan
Lawrence Catholic Academy
A Nursery through Grade 8 Elementary School located in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It offers a motivating and full-bodied curriculum, enlightened by Catholic teaching and offers all students an excellent education in faith-filled and supportive environment Lawrence Catholic Academy offers the unique mission and the superb academic, human, and spiritual formation of a Catholic School education, and thrive professionally and personally as adults. Lawrence Catholics Academy offers to children age three through grade eight a challenging academic program and process of spiritual-human foundation that enables students to realize their God-given potential.
“I volunteered at Lawrence Catholic Academy and it was a very different experience. I am familiar with working with children from my past experiences but children at LCA were unlike any of my past experience, children at LCA were nice and friendly with a mix of loudness and hyperactivity. Being in Lawrence help me see that are places close to me that children are not getting the best education and I have to do something about it.” –Tom H
Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services is a community of care for older adults. The program includes
- Independent Housing
- 3 adult day programs for seniors living in the community who need additional support assisted living
- A short term rehab program
- Dedicated Memory Care Unit
- Skilled nursing facility
In total there can be close to 600 elderly being cared for during the course of the day
“This is my second year working at Mary Immaculate and it is still so surprising and heartwarming the relationships that are formed. The number of stories I’ve heard and the connections I’ve been able to make are ones that I will never forget. I get the opportunity to do activities with the residents such as bingo, arts and crafts, nail painting, etc. During this time I get to meet and reconnect with residents and get to know them and their life. It will always put a smile on my face when I walk back into the building and I’m greeted by people who know my name and are genuinely happy to see me. The days when we come and volunteer are really special to the residents and you can tell how much our work there brightens their day.” –Gabby G
Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School
Located in Lawrence MA, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High school provides a Catholic, affordable, culturally sensitive, college preparatory education enhanced by professional work experience for young men and women from families with limited income. NDCR is a member of the Cristo Rey Network which bills themselves as “schools that work.” The Bedrock of Cristo Rey model high school’s Corporate Work Study Program which places students into entry-level clerical positions and generates much need revenue for the school. At full enrollment, Cristo Rey Network high schools are able to cover nearly 80% of their operating expenses through a work program and modest tuition.
Notre Dame Education Center
Educates low-income adults and empower them to improve their lives and those of their families. The mission is to:
- Promote quality of life through education
- Collaborate with people in the community to facilitate improved services to immigrants in the area
- Generate a spirit of welcome and respect for the dignity of each person
- Provide for the development of self-esteem and literacy that will support employment opportunities, better family life and participation within a community
- Develop diverse and integrated educational programs including English for speakers of other languages, computer literacy, distance learning in English, Certified Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aid occupational training and preparation for the citizenship test and interview
“Personally, I do not know what my Merrimack experience this past year would have been without service. Although I had participated in frequent volunteering throughout high school, I had no idea of the ways in which my life and my faith would be transformed through my service experiences here. I have participated in weekly service at the Notre Dame Education Center in Lawrence, which is a community of learning that empowers under-educated adults to improve and enrich their lives through access to education, quality services, collaboration, and advocacy. I engage in English conversation practice with primarily immigrant adults who are studying to learn English. By doing something as simple as engaging in conversation, I have been able to help others to improve their English and to enhance their lives.” –Theresa
“I am entering my second year at the Notre Dame Education Center. Last year, I tutored English to adults who have immigrated to this America from various Latin American countries for 20 minute-sessions and meet with 5 groups per visit. This year, I am helping one student study for the US citizenship test for an hour and 15 minutes and then meeting with 2 groups, like how I did last year. At the NDEC, I have acquired many experiences that I will always remember during my journey through college and into finding a career. The students I work with are extremely hardworking and inspire me to always do my best in my own academics. I just as much from them as they do from me.” –Denis
St. Louis School
St. Louis School, founded in 1907 by the sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary has a rich history in the city of Lowell. These Sisters provided an education for the children of French immigrants as they settled in a new land. Today, St. Louis school educated student’s many cultures and is committed, as stated in its mission statement to the spiritual, intellectual, social, psychological and physical growth of each child through the practice of Catholic values academic excellence and responsible citizenship.
“Last year I volunteered at St. Louis School for my service site. I wanted to be a teacher once I graduate so this was the best experience I could have asked for. The teacher that I worked with was amazing. She not only gave me tips on what to do and not do when I have my own classroom, she gave me a job, where she would put my name on their everyday schedule. The environment at St. Louis School was so welcoming from the moment I stepped into the principal’s office to the moment I left the classroom. The teachers were all very nice to me and the students all adored me especially during recess when we could focus on anything but school work.” –Sudha
The Austin Scholars program also offers internship opportunities as part of service learning.
“I have really enjoyed my service learning this semester through a financial and health coaching internship. Within this program, I have a peer - a freshman Merrimack College student - with whom I have been working over the course of the last few weeks. Essentially, she is my client, and I am her coach. It has been nice to get to know her one-on-one and not only act as a mentor to her, but also help her in such a large way with something as impactful as finances. I have coached her with regards to improving her spending habits, saving, protection, borrowing, etc. I know that my client feels as though she has learned a lot out of this program, and has gained knowledge and resources that she is grateful to have at such an early stage of her way through school. I have really appreciated being able to get to know her and be such an impact on her life, seeing as this is something I really wish I had been involved in freshman year!” –Emma