In the year 2000, the Sisters of the Chardon Province answered the call of Sister Mary Sujita, Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame, to find new ways to help those who are poor. This request coincided with the opening of our former Provincial Center as an apartment building for fixed-income senior citizens. It is located in the Glenville-Hough area of Cleveland, an area of great poverty, where fewer than 50% of students graduate from high school and 94% of adults read below the 5th grade level. Social workers and ministers in the area said, “If you want to help poor children, help their parents pass the GED (General Equivalency Degree) tests.” The Legacy Project was born.
Most of the students are middle aged adults who have discovered that they cannot get a job without a high school diploma. Single mothers walk their children to school and then go to Legacy, their school, for a few hours of study. At night, the entire family sits around the kitchen table doing homework. One mother told her children, “You do not want to be doing homework when you are forty years old, like me. So you are going to stay in school until you graduate.” Other students have part-time jobs and struggle to find time to fit in their studies, but they manage two or three times a week.
Today ten Sisters of Notre Dame and eleven volunteers tutor adults in reading, writing, math, social studies and science, the five subjects of the GED test. Our tutors are retired teachers, college professors, doctors, accountants, and other professionals. They are dedicated to helping Legacy students improve their lives and find a way out of poverty. Many of the students left school because they could not learn in the large group setting, so the one-on-one tutoring at Legacy is the best way for them to learn. Progress is often slow but steady.
The Sisters of Notre Dame are committed to helping the people of Cleveland improve their lives and those of their children by supporting Legacy with funds and staff. All costs are covered by grants, donations, and funds from the Province. Services are offered to our students free of charge, but one student said, “If I had to, I would pay to come here. You guys are the best!”