The Central Catholic Marist Mentors Program, started in 2010 by students Michelle Abou-Raad '12 and Anya Housianitis '13, is celebrating 10 years of CCHS students mentoring children at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence.
In 2010, Michelle Abou-Raad '12 developed this unique mentoring program after attending a Marist Brothers Youth Conference with hundreds of students from Marist schools across the country. Attendees were challenged to develop a project that would honor the Marist calling to serve the “least favored” and make a much-needed difference in the community.
“At the conference, the Central Catholic group discussed seeing young children walk home from school alone in Lawrence and we expressed our concern about the availability of mentors for these kids,” said Michelle. “To ensure that these children had the proper mentors, we developed the idea of a program in which Central Catholic students could be the mentors.”
With assistance from the Campus Ministry staff and collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Michelle - along with another student, Anya Housianitis '13, officially founded the Central Catholic Marist Mentors Program.
For ten years, and with hundreds of inner-city children served at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Central Catholic’s Marist Mentors continue to volunteer at the Club weekly as mentors to kids in grades three and up. There are currently over 50 CCHS students signed up to mentor students.
In 2018, the program was presented with the Paul W. Cronin Mentor Award for Volunteer Service by the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence: Student Led Marist Mentor Program Recognized for Making Lives Better (January 28, 2018)
Current Central Catholic senior Elvin Rosa '21 – who has completed over 850 community service hours through Central - now carries the torch for the Marist Mentors at CCHS.
Elvin was seven years old when he starting attending Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence. Anya Housianitis ’13 was his Marist Mentor and they remain close over 10 years later. As a mentor, Anya played games with Elvin, helped with his homework, and served as his best friend at the Club. Elvin credits her with being one of the main reasons why he went to CCHS. He has continued to flourish under her mentorship.
“This program changed my life!" explains Elvin. "I spend a lot of time at the Boys and Girls Club, a place where I’ve been member since the age of seven. I’ve grown up and witnessed how much kids in the city of Lawrence struggle with many things, such as poverty, homework, and fitting in. Now, I am one of the leaders of the program and a successful mentor."
While at Central, Elvin got involved in Marist Mentors freshman year as a co-leader and has been mentoring the same student for four years. During the pandemic, the face-to-face interaction turned virtual with homework tutoring and emotional support over zoom.
“I check in with him often - asking how he’s doing, just trying to make his day better during a difficult time,” said Elvin.
The continued success of the Marist Mentors program is evident in the incredible accomplishments made by both the mentors and mentees.
About Elvin Rosa '21
Elvin was just named 2020 Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence as Youth of the Year, is captain of the CCHS Swim Team, plays volleyball, serves as a Campus Ministry Leader, and participates in Student Ambassadors, Chess Club, Student Alumni Association, and Project Recycle. He also works three jobs in his “free time.”
After graduating from CCHS in May 2021, Elvin plans to study biology/pre-med at one of the many colleges and universities to which he’s already been accepted. He also plans on continuing to serve others after he leaves Central Catholic.
“Whenever I feel like I have no meaning, I think back to all of my community service acts and it makes me realize what an impact I have made on so many lives. Knowing you have made an impact on someone else’s life - that’s the true meaning of life in my opinion.”
About Anya Housianitis '13
Anya graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University, earned a Master of Engineering degree from Cornell University, and is currently employed by Lockheed Martin as a Logistics Support Manager.
About Michelle Abou-Raad '12
Michelle Abou-Raad is a graduate of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University with degrees in International Relations and Middle East & North Africa Studies. She currently works in international development as a Management Consultant at Strategy& in the United Arab Emirates. She cofounded Urban Refuge, a phone application aid locator that aims to help urban refugees and vulnerable individuals in Jordan locate and access aid and services.
Thank you to Michelle, Anya, Elvin, and all of those who have contributed to the Marist Mentors - for answering the Marist call to service with such love and gratitude.