Offering a better future in Woodhaven
by Ed Wendell
Jun 12, 2013 | 1034 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With all that’s going on in the world it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the bad news. You really don’t have to go far to find it. As it turns out, you don’t have to go very far to find good news if you live in Woodhaven.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center works hard every day to improve women’s lives and what they accomplish there is inspiring.

Jacqueline Yhap was 17 years old when her family moved to the United States, before she’d had an opportunity to finish high school. Upon settling here, with her parents working she became responsible for caring for her five brothers and sisters.

As we all know, life moves pretty fast and before long she found herself working, bypassing the rest of her education. She stayed at her one job for 14 years until she found herself unemployed with out even a high school education.

At that point in her life, Jacqueline turned to the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center here in Woodhaven, and last week she found herself delivering the Student Address at the center’s achievement ceremony.

“My goal after receiving my GED is to find a better job,” she told the gathering.

And her education is not complete, as she plans to take some courses in medical billing. Jacqueline’s story was one of many inspiring tales told that day at the center by women of different backgrounds, nationalities, and religions.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame is an ongoing inspiring story taking place in our midst at a converted convent on 87th Street and 88th Avenue, across the street from St. Thomas the Apostle. The School Sisters, or SSNDEC, offers opportunities for economically disadvantaged women to become more fluent in English, learn math and computer skills, and achieve their GED so that they may ultimately enter city colleges and/or the job market with better paying jobs and positions.

“The sisters made me feel that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it,” Yhap said. “That it's better late than never. They gave me a second chance for my dreams.”

Sister Catherine Feeney, executive director of SSNDEC, addressed the students, comparing them to how she remembered them when they first entered the educational center. “Today I see before me a community of learners, of scholars, of achievers,” she said.

And the hard work that the sisters and the students did this past semester has paid almost instant dividends.

“In the last two days,” Sr. Feeney said, “I have written seven letters of reference. Some students could not join us today because they have already found jobs, and one is out on a job interview right now.”

This is a remarkable turnaround of fortunes for many of these women, and this will make the lives of their children better, as well. SSNDEC’s motto is “Turning Hope into Reality,” and this is what they do at the center year round.

For additional information about the School Sisters of Notre Dame, about the educational opportunities available, their computer classes, their GED program or even if you'd like to volunteer, email ssndec@aol or call (718) 335-7759.

This is another example of something nice happening right here in Woodhaven, and they deserve our support.

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