PROVIDENCE — At many high schools throughout Rhode Island, senior projects are a major part of a student’s final year. The project allows students to demonstrate a meaningful connection between the skills they have acquired during their high school career and the outside world. Cordelia “Corrie” Ruzzo, 17, a student at Exeter-West Greenwich High School, knew she wanted her senior project to not only be meaningful, but something that would help others.
Ruzzo, a parishioner at SS. John and Paul Parish, Coventry, was inspired to find a way to work with a special ministry of the Diocese of Providence that supports mothers and their babies. The Office of Life and Family works to protect and defend innocent human life at every stage, including pregnancy support for families through its St. Gabriel’s Call ministry. The program is a much-needed resource for women who find themselves without financial or family support in their time of need.
In addition to diapers, clothing and toiletries, St. Gabriel’s Call provides mothers with cribs, baby carriers and other items as they become available. Many of these items are donated by parishes and schools, or by individuals who once used them for their own children. For its day-to-day operations, St. Gabriel’s Call relies heavily on funds donated to the annual Catholic Charity Appeal and on the network of volunteers who operate its outreach centers.
Ruzzo first heard about St. Gabriel’s Call while attending Father John V. Doyle School after her teacher, Kathleen Brusic, organized a baby shower that benefited the ministry and the many families that it serves.
“This was a fun event that my friends and I enjoyed going to, but more importantly, it helped a great cause,” said Ruzzo. “Even though I do go to public school now, my experience at Catholic school definitely influenced my decision. When it came time to choose what I wanted to do, St. Gabriel’s Call immediately came to mind. I have always been impressed by what they do and I saw my senior project as an opportunity to help the cause.”
For a month, Ruzzo collected 103 new baby items, as well as four boxes of used clothing.
“There are so many families with young children that need help in our area,” she said. “This is a great source for struggling families to go to for help and when they are in need of support. Some parents just need the necessities for their children and they may not have access to them. It is important for those of us who can help them to do so in any way we can.”
Ruzzo shared the response and generosity from the community was incredible, adding that her dance teacher, Stacie Najac, who owns Dance Unlimited in Warwick, was helpful in making sure that her senior project was a success.
“I’m happy that she let me set up my donation collection at my dance studio because I think it was a great place to do it. She was really supportive and helped spread the word to make sure that as many people knew about it as possible,” she said. “People were so willing to help and brought in so many nice items to donate to St. Gabriel’s Call. There was obviously a really positive response to it. I appreciate everything that everyone was able to donate.”
Ruzzo shared that she was fortunate enough to grow up with a family who was able to provide for her, send her to a great school and help her with everything that she needed.
“I want to do my part, even if it may be very small, in helping parents to be able to give that same kind of life to their children,” said Ruzzo. “I’m hoping to work with St. Gabriel’s Call again in the future and do more to give back.”
Help moms in need
To learn more about how you can help St. Gabriel’s Call, contact Carol Owens, coordinator of the Office of Life and Family at 401-421-7833, ext.218 or cowensdioceseofprovidence.org.
To make an online donation or learn more about the Catholic Charity Appeal, please visit givecentral.org/DOPCCA.