Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in Brighton will receive two National Philanthropy Day awards for student projects from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Genesee Valley Chapter in November.
Mercy won Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy awards in the group category for the Class of 2019’s Motto projects and the individual category for Victor resident Madeline Berl’s project.
Mercy’s Motto Project, started in 2015, allows students to connect their talents, passions and interests on projects that reflect the school’s core values and the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concerns, both centered around hospitality, compassion, nonviolence and respect for all. Students start their projects as juniors and complete them in March of their senior year with a presentation to a panel of teachers, staff, alumni and community members.
Through their projects, Mercy’s Class of 2019 raised more than $37,000 for 85 organizations around the globe, including organizations in Haiti, China, Guyana and Nepal.
“This class went above and beyond with their projects,” said Elizabeth Decosse, Motto Project coordinator. “Each year, the thought and dedication that goes into these projects keeps improving and the Class of 2019 reached new heights with its fundraising efforts on behalf of both local and international organizations.”
Berl partnered with It’s All About Caring for Kids for her project. Founded in 2012, IACKids seeks to empower Greater Rochester families going through financial hardships due to a child’s severe illness.
Embracing her love of fashion, Berl planned “Runway for Hope” in December 2018 to benefit the children and families of IACKids. She hosted a pancake breakfast, Santa meet-and-greet, ice skating and fashion show event attended by 100 participants that raised more than $3,000, as well as awareness about the challenges faced by families with severe illness.
“Madeline was able to give members of IACKids a platform to share their stories,” said Kelly Conlan, director of corporate relations and special events at Mercy. “More importantly, she brought joy to all the children and families involved in ‘Runway for Hope.’”
Through the 2019 Motto Project, Berl and her classmates developed life lessons that are necessary for their next steps outside of Mercy’s walls. As each student develops their project from the ground up, they gain skills in communication, event planning, organization and leadership. They are taught to use their passions to fulfill needs in their community.
“What starts as a senior project ends as a true experience to grow and learn the benefits of being compassionate to others,” Decosse said. “I hope the Motto Project inspires our students to continue to give back after graduation through various volunteer opportunities at college or in their community.”