Every year since we were married in 2005, Janet and I create a Christmas card from photographs we’ve taken during the preceding 12 months. It’s actually an oversized postcard, which this year contains a record 23 photos. The one in the upper right-hand corner is of a teenager in high school graduation garb with a big smile on her face. The caption on the reverse reads: “Darlene, proud graduate of Brockton High and Trinity Church’s TEEP program.”
We met Darlene in October of her senior year, at a time when she was juggling her regular academic and extra-curricular activities, her responsibilities as a TEEP mentor to younger students, a part-time job for pay, plus the challenging task of selecting and eventually applying to eleven schools. Paul Bowen, TEEP’s energetic director recruited us to help with the nitty-gritty of her college application process. Although our enthusiasm for TEEP’s mission and our financial support of the Foundation had been growing over the past several years, it wasn’t until we had the opportunity to work with Darlene that we really got excited about the program.
Most of our work was an extended conversation, in person and by e-mail, with Darlene about the principal essay – the iconic “Common App” – she was writing in support of multiple applications. It took me a while to get the hang of being a patient and supportive “editor,” and there were times when Janet had to restrain me from becoming a ghost writer. But judging by the result, our efforts, and most importantly, Darlene’s paid off in a big way when she was accepted at UMass Amherst as a member of the class of 2014.
With Paul’s help and encouragement, we’ve now “re-upped” to work with twin sisters who are now juniors at Boston Latin Academy, a public exam school in Roxbury designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education this fall. It’s an exciting prospect to be helping Alex and Lani on their path to becoming college graduates in June, 2016.
If you’ve become even a tiny bit excited or interested in our TEEP volunteer experience, we’d be glad to speak with you. Paul and Louise are also willing and able to deepen your understanding of this wonderful program. In the meantime, if you’re looking for opportunities to make a big difference in the lives of young people in the city of Boston, make a charitable contribution to the Trinity Boston Foundation in support of the TEEP program before year-end.
Jay Cushman and Janet Shipman