A Bronx school that helps some of the most vulnerable residents in the city is celebrating 110 years, and that makes it a fitting time for a visit from the Archbishop of New York, reported Erin Clarke on this recent NY1 television broadcast.
The Lavelle School for the Blind had humble beginnings when it opened more than a century ago.
“It was run by the Blauvelt Dominican congregation and their dedication to the students, their commitment to helping people with severe disabilities,” said Claire Lavin, president of the board of trustees at the Lavelle School for the Blind. “They started with one blind person in someone’s apartment, and from that, it grew into a whole school.”
On Thursday, (September 11, 2014) Cardinal Timothy Dolan stopped by the school in the northeast Bronx.
“In love and compassion, teaching, healing, they do it splendidly,” Dolan said.
Though Lavelle isn’t a Catholic school, it was started by nuns and it falls under the umbrella of Catholic charities and Archdiocese institutions. This year, it’s celebrating 110 years of giving not only blind students, but also those with multiple disabilities the skills to stand on their own and be successful.
“I not only had an academic education, but I had a lot of other skills and things to back me up to be able to go out and then be the only blind child in athat was in my neighborhood,” said Carmen Rico, an alumnus of the school.
Rico said the school gave her the confidence to go on to the College of New Rochelle and Columbia. Then, she became a teacher for blind students.
“The kids are learning basic skills that translate to real work in the future,” said Gary Weir, transition coordinator for the Lavelle School for the Blind.
“I’m working with clothes and in pocketbooks,” said student Rosa Santos. “It makes me feel good. I get paid.”
This holistic approach to education piqued the interest of Dolan on his visit.
“There was sort of a sense of pride and joy and ownership in the students,” Dolan said. “They weren’t numbers. They weren’t clients. You could tell they were part of the family. There’s a sense of love and warmth and self-help and helping one another. That moved me very much.”
Just like in 1904, when the Blauvelt Dominican sisters started Lavelle, today, it’s caring for and helping its students achieve fulfilling lives.