Catholic Free Press

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  • Apr
  • 27

McAuley Nazareth Home offers stability

Posted By April 27, 2017 | 3:58 pm | Featured Article #2
Teacher Anne Power works with students at McAuley Nazareth Home.
Teacher Anne Power works with students at McAuley Nazareth Home.

By Father Paul J. Tougas

Anne Power has been a staff person at McAuley Nazareth Home in Leicester for 12 years.
“That’s almost half my life” she says laughing.
She started as a child care staff person and moved on to a special needs teaching position, which reflects her educational background. She holds a master’s degree in special education from Worcester State University.
When asked why she has stayed so long at Nazareth, Miss Power says she is attached to it and her students. She enjoys seeing their progress, seeing them doing so well.
“Nazareth is unique,” she says, “a tight-knit community of staff united in wanting the best for their students.”Partners logo Web
There are 50 staff members: 47 are directly involved with the children; there is one plant manager, one maintenance man and a one-person housekeeping department.
The number of children fluctuates. Currently, there are two group homes with nine boys each; 10 residential children and six day students.
All students have special needs. The group home students go out to school, either to Leicester public schools or to their respective communities. The resident students, in grades K – 8, are taught in-house. Miss Power is one of two teachers, teaching small groups that may contain more than one grade.
One of the strengths of Nazareth is its relatively small size as compared to other social service agencies, she said. The student/clients get individualized and personal attention. They are loved as part of the Nazareth family and there is a stability which contrasts with the instability of their lives before Nazareth. Many have been moved among multiple foster homes or may have experienced abuse in their own families. Many of the students are estranged from their families and do not return to them. Those boys, instead, are released through adoption. Family therapy is offered to some families and are sometimes reunited.
A student/client stays an average of one to two years in the Nazareth program, according to Executive Director Kim Pare. A positive outcome for a Nazareth child is re-unification with the family of origin or with a relative, such as a grandparent, who may wish to take the child. Adoption is another positive outcome. Sometimes children return to Nazareth because they haven’t yet mastered living in the outside world. Older youth are sometimes prepared for living in group homes. Most of the children are placed at Nazareth by the state Division of Children and Families. Nazareth also receives placements through the state Department of Mental Health.
There is a certain stability among the professional staff that contributes to the overall sense of permanence and family. There are about a dozen staffers who have been at the home for 10 to 20 years. Miss Power is a good example, with her 12 years. Another is Mrs. Pare who has been at Nazareth for 22 years and has worked her way through the system as a child care worker, teacher, education director and now executive director. She is the first lay director, replacing Sister Janet Ballantine who retired in 2009. Sister Janet, however, is still very present to staff, children and boards, as a volunteer, as are Sisters Mary Barry and Carol Kell. All the women are Sisters of Mercy and longtime Nazareth professionals.
Msgr. Edmond T. Tinsley, who died in September 2015 was a driving force for Nazareth for more than 58 years.
“He is responsible for making Nazareth what it is today, turning it into a therapeutic milieu from the orphanage it originally was,” Mrs Pare said. A new gymnasium, built after a capital fund drive organized by Miss Power’s father, Attorney Gerald Power, is named in Msgr. Tinsley’s honor.
Attorney Power himself has been a force at Nazareth for many years, according to Mrs. Pare. He served on the board of directors for close to 25 years and chairman of that board for many years.
One might expect that Attorney Power’s involvement at the Leicester home is why his daughter ended up there. But Miss Power said said “no,” that her mother is a teacher and she had always wanted to teach too. Nazareth just happened to have an opening, so she applied, she said.
Mrs. Pare was asked what keeps her at Nazareth and she quickly responded,  “Oh my goodness, our mission, the charism of the Sisters of Mercy. We serve some very challenged young boys who really need our programming, uprooted from their families of origin and needing the consistency of personnel, structure and stable support to enable them to grow. I would not be tempted to leave. This is my second home. Today the Nazareth clientele come from homes with serious domestic violence, the downward spiral of drug abuse, the single mother struggling to make ends meet.”
Nazareth was originally a home for boys but now accepts girls in the day program, though there are none there presently, Mrs. Pare said.
Partners in Charity lends support to the home with an annual grant of $30,000.