APH, the ‘Light in Winter’ in Action

This past Monday we had our first all-school assembly, one of the wonderful benefits of the new Semester. The young women in our Events and Traditions club organized an afternoon of reflection, inspiration for service, and fun to help us to celebrate APH, the Light in Winter house service project.

Shine your light

We gathered for our assembly in the WOW (Windows On the World) room with folks wearing the vibrant colors of our five Houses. This interfaith prayer service was planned and led by students. Through readings, reflection and a shared greeting of “Peace be with you,” we recognized that as a community we are called to find ways to spread and share the light of our compassion in service to those in need. We had the special pleasure of opening and closing the service with the beautiful sounds of our Acapella group, the “Ruby Slippers.”

Alex Lang, ‘21, shared a Buddhist passage, followed by an invitation to reflect on how our random acts of kindness can lead to chain events of spreading simple joy and comfort: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Norah Como, ‘21, read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew and invited us to reflect on what it means to each of us to let our light shine: “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify God in heaven.

Holly Carney, ‘20 offered words of wisdom from writer Brené Brown, along with a reminder that kindness grows when we are vulnerable enough to reach out to each other. “Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but… Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

This time gathered together for reflection as a community set the stage for celebrating that we are indeed the light in winter working to transform ourselves, our school and our world.

House Spirit of Service

Over the past two weeks, each House collectively researched ideas and then selected an organization or agency to support in a service project. The second part of the assembly was all about House spirit as each group presented their plan to the rest of the school. It was wonderful to witness and here are the highlights!

Yellow House — Team Yellow’s empathy led them to a pragmatic and often overlooked service opportunity. Women living in poverty don’t have easy access to menstrual hygiene products. This basic need is not covered by food stamps or WIC programs and is rarely included in donations to food pantries and homeless shelters. The yellow house is sponsoring a drive for tampons and pads to create care packages that will then be donated to Period Partners, founded by 26-year-old, Gloucester native Lucy Gross, and The Open Door food pantry. As added motivation, girls from any house who make a donation will receive a yellow ribbon that lets them earn the fun of wearing pj’s to school on Valentine’s day!

Gray House– At their first planning session, the students of Gray House made a few discoveries. One is that according to data from the Greater Boston Food Bank, 1 in 10 people in Eastern Massachusetts suffers from “food insecurity.” Armed with a long list of disturbing statistics about hunger in our own communities, Gray House had found its cause! They also knew it would be almost impossible to work around all their busy schedules to find one common hands-on service project, and hands-on is what they wanted.  Their creative and effective solution was to stick with the cause, and rally in small groups for ongoing work in places like Beverly Bootstraps and soup kitchens, food pantries and food banks all over the North Shore.

Green House– Women experiencing homelessness experience a unique set of issues and for women in Boston, Rosie’s Place is committed to helping them secure the resources they need. Rosie’s Place, founded in 1974 as the first women’s shelter in the United States, provides meals, shelter and a wide range of support services. The young women in Green House are aware of the gift of being at an all-girls school and were inspired to focus their service project on this organization that serves women in need. Students were particularly moved by the fact that women and children are the fastest growing population experiencing homelessness. They were also struck by how hard it is for women to maintain the basics of self-care and hygiene when their lives are not stable. Our students are sponsoring a drive for toiletries and personal care items and will have flyers and more information available about specific needs. They hope this will be an ongoing project.

Red and Blue Houses — Sweet Paws Rescue is a non-profit organization that finds new, loving homes for rescued dogs. Several students from APH have ties to Sweet Paws, including Maddie Mogavero ‘21 , Julianna Caruso ‘20 and Shay Saad ‘21, and Red and Blue Houses have teamed up to help. According to Maddie, before dogs are adopted, there is process that commonly includes a 48-hour stay at Sweet Paws’ facility before they can go into foster homes. Supplies needed are pretty specific and information for donations can be found on the Sweet Paws Amazon wish list, and on flyers that will be at school. This upcoming weekend Sweet Paws is getting a shipment of over 80 dogs and they are in need of more foster homes. Maddie asks that you check out the website for more information and to let her know if you can share your puppy love by fostering a rescued dog.

As you can see, the amazing students, teachers, staff and families that comprise our community truly do make APH the Light in Winter. Thank you for all YOU do to help make this a reality!