Mercy to Receive Philanthropy Awards

August 22, 2019

Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women will receive two prestigious National Philanthropy Day awards for student projects from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Genesee Valley Chapter. Mercy won the Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy – Group Award for the Class of 2019’s Motto Projects; and the Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy – Individual Award for Madeline Berl’s ’19 individual Motto project. Both awards will be presented in November.

Mercy’s Motto Project, started in 2015, allows students to connect their talents, passions, and interests on projects that reflect the school’s Core Values and the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns which are both centered around hospitality, compassion, nonviolence, and respect for all. Students begin their projects during their junior year and complete them in March of their senior year with a presentation to a panel of teachers, staff, alumnae, and community members. Through their Motto projects, Mercy’s Class of 2019 raised more than $37,000 in support of 85 organizations around the globe, including organizations in Haiti, China, Guyana, and Nepal.

“This class went above and beyond with their projects,” said Elizabeth Decosse, Mercy’s Motto Project Coordinator. “Each year, the thought and dedication that goes into these projects keeps improving, and the Class of 2019 reached new heights with its fundraising efforts on behalf of both local and international organizations.”

Mercy’s winner for the Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy – Individual Award, Madeline Berl ’19 from Victor, partnered with local charity IACKids (It’s All About Caring for Kids) for her Motto project. Founded in 2012, IACKids seeks to empower families in the Greater Rochester area who are going through financial hardships due to a child’s severe illness. Embracing her love of fashion, Berl planned a ‘Runway for Hope’ event in December 2018 to benefit the children and families of IACKids. She hosted a pancake breakfast, Santa Meet-and-Greet, ice skating, and fashion show that attracted 100 participants and raised more than $3,000 while raising awareness about the challenges families with severe illness face.

“Madeline was able to give members of IACKids a platform to share their stories,” says Kelly Conlan, Mercy’s Director of Corporate Relations and Special Events. “More importantly, she brought joy to all the children and families involved in ‘Runway for Hope.’”

Through Mercy’s 2019 Motto Project, Berl and her fellow classmates have developed life lessons that are necessary for their next steps outside of Mercy’s walls. As each student develops their project from the ground up, they gain valuable skills in communication, event planning, organization, and leadership. Above all, they are taught to use their passions to fulfill the needs in their community.

“What starts as a ‘senior project’ ends as a true experience to grow and learn the benefits of being compassionate to others,” says Decosse. “I hope the Motto Project inspires our students to continue to give back after graduation through various volunteer opportunities at college or in their community.”


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