Forty Years Strong

Abby's House Celebrates Partnership with the College of the Holy Cross
College of the Holy Cross

At this year’s Spring-Tacular, founder Annette Rafferty recounted how the partnership with the College of the Holy Cross began:

“The Abby’s House partnership with the College of the Holy Cross actually began in 1974 when, to quote Anna Marie Kane, SSJ, the first woman chaplain of the College, ‘a new and struggling Women’s Organization, under the leadership of Eve Gilmore, raised the first money for what would become Abby’s House.’

Under Anna Marie and the guidance of Eileen Dooley, then director of student activities, students and faculty alike were encouraged to help build this “Bright Spot in the City.” So intense was their commitment, that the young women formed their own organization called Abby’s Friends, now included in the College’s SPUD (Student Projects for Urban Dvelopment) program. Thanks to those brave young students who came off the hill, into the inner city to staff the shelter. Some of them are here tonight- Paula Sasso, Mary Nerbonne and Edie Joyce.  

Special Thanks to long-time supporter, Professor Theresa McBride, and to Rev. Meredyth Wessman Ward and Susan Genney who stayed with us to be a stabilizing influence during the summer of 1976. Who could forget the help we received from retired math professor, Dan Dewey, who managed to furnish the shelter with ‘senior castaways,’- bed frames, tables, chairs, and sundry other items left behind by departing students.

Today, the women of Holy Cross still staff the shelter, but now also do summer internships, staff the reception office, do projects here during Spring Break and work with the residents in our Women’s Center.“

After Annette spoke, Holy Cross alumna Paula Sasso described how her volunteer involvement with Abby’s House shaped her life, leading her to develop volunteer programs and partnerships in other locations. She concluded her remarks with:

“Thank you Abby’s for what you have given to the Holy Cross community, the mentoring provided by the amazing staff and volunteers to our students.  I think of my own life and the ripple effect of my efforts.  I know that it is in part due to my experience with Abby’s.  It’s overwhelming to multiply that same effect on 40 years of Holy Cross volunteers.

And finally, I can’t pass up this opportunity to thank Annette.  From my day one meeting in 1976 I knew that you were a force to be reckoned with.  For me, and countless others, you have been the life blood of Abby’s. But just as important, you serve as an example of what can be accomplished when we work together for “To whom much is given, much is expected.” 

Annette and Executive Director Stephanie Page then presented a plaque to the College of the Holy Cross to recognize the 40-year partnership, which was accepted by the current Director of Chaplains, Marybeth Kearns-Barrett.