“Excuse me, what is your name?”

Stevie locks his clear green eyes on mine and listens. He looks upward to visualize the letters in my name as I spell it for him. He is a first-grader who’s very excited about his newest skill: reading.

At six years old, Stevie is living at the Harbour House Family Shelter in New Bedford with his father and four-year-old brother. At just six, he’s lost much: his mother, his home, and belongings. His treasures—like transformers and books—are all in storage. Yet, despite the trauma he has experienced, Stevie is charming, polite, and inquisitive.

Each week David Brooks, a School on Wheels tutor, meets with Stevie to help him with school work. They focus on Stevie’s interests, which include sharks and drawing, as well as areas where he needs help. I asked Stevie what he works on with his tutor. “Reading and math, mostly,” he answered. “I’ve already read three whole books,” he adds, feigning nonchalance, but I can tell he’s quite proud. Brooks has made a commitment to see that Stevie does not fall behind in his learning. “He’s extremely bright,” Brooks observes. “Once Stevie warmed up to tutoring, he became an absolute pleasure to work with. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

AnaIn 2005, 15-year-old Ana Lobo arrived from Cape Verde to live in Brockton with her older sister. Speaking little English, but with an intense drive to learn, Ana was focused on obtaining a high-quality education. As a sophomore at Brockton High School Ana met Beth Young, who is a veteran School on Wheels tutor. For the last eight years, with Beth’s guidance and support, Ana received a high school diploma from BHS in 2010 and earned her Associate’s Degree from Massasoit Community College.

Beth has remained by Ana’s side because, she says, "Ana is a very hard worker who holds herself to high standards. I've always been so impressed with her work ethic and motivation. As the mother of 9-year-old Brianna, Ana juggles quite a bit,” Beth explains. In addition to caring for her child, Ana worked 20-25 hours a week, consistently maintaining a GPA greater than 3.0, while at Massasoit Community College.

Cheryl Opper

Cheryl Opper, Founder and Executive Director of School on Wheels of Massachusetts, was a recipient of the YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Award. Cheryl was honored at an dinner on May 27 at Rachel's Lakeside in Westport, MA.

The event honored women in the community who have dedicated their lives to eliminating racism, empowering women and mentoring women and girls, which Cheryl has accomplished through her commitment to providing educational support to children impacted by homelessness.

Team SOWMA is proud of you, Cheryl!


Nationally-known attorney Ken Feinberg, a Brockton native, returned to his hometown Monday, May 18 to support School on Wheels of Massachusetts as a speaker at a reception to raise awareness of the organization and a visitor to SOWMA’s Brockton headquarters where he heard firsthand about the organization’s impact.

School on Wheels provides customized academic services, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, new backpacks and school supplies, and educational advocacy to children impacted by homelessness to help each child reach his or her full academic potential.

Feinberg is best known for working pro bono as the Special Master of the Federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. He was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to run The One Fund Boston, the central fund to gather donations for the marathon bombing victims.

During Feinberg’ visit to SOWMA’s headquarters, he met with Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director, and three of SOWMA’s college students who shared with him their experiences of homelessness, their dreams for a better future and how SOWMA’s support has helped them remain focused on their education.

Tara and Stephanie
(Left to right: Marketing Director, Tara DiPersio & Program Assistant, Stephanie St. Louis)

Our School on Wheels staff are exceptional. Time and time again they go above and beyond to support our kids. Recently Stephanie, our Program Assistant, dropped of supplies for one of our students.

"Today I dropped off a book bag to a little boy who has close ties to me personally. He and his mother have been homeless for two years, moving back to Massachusetts from Florida. I gave him his new book bag and he looked at it with excitement and said "Red is my favorite color, this is the best backpack ever!" 

Thank you Stephanie for going above and beyond for SOWMA's kids!


 Outrunning Homelessness 2015

Friends and families came out in droves to help School on Wheels of Massachusetts take steps to end the cycle of homelessness during the 5th Annual Outrunning Homelessness 5K Race and Family Fun Walk on a crisp, sunny Saturday, April 25.

SOWMA’s event, which kicked off at 9 a.m. at DCR’s Borderland State Park in Easton, raised $46,000, surpassing funds raised at last year’s event by $5,400. SOWMA is grateful to anchor sponsor Crescent Credit Union, as well as all of this year’s sponsors for making this such a successful event, once again.

Among the walkers and runners was a team of 20 from Harbour House Family Center in New Bedford, the site of one of SOWMA’s tutoring programs, led by Program Director Shelly Correia. “The families who live at Harbour House were so excited to join the staff for the fun run,” says Correia. “The children had a great time and the parents were so grateful to see so many people participating in the event to benefit their children. One very pregnant mom who participated in the walk told me that she found the walk to be soothing and relaxing amongst all the trees, bridges and ponds.”

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