Katie Paige Gardes (Class of 2021) had volunteered to be a summer camp counselor at St. Michael Special School in the summer of 2019 and had planned to return over the summer, until the restrictions associated with COVID-19 changed everything.
During her time as a student at Sacred Heart, Katie Paige has learned that community service projects can be life-changing experiences. During her work with her campers last summer, she created close relationships through myriad activities ranging from bowling to visiting museums. When she could not work with them during summer camp in the summer of 2020, she decided to give back in another way.
“I knew I had to find a way to give back to St. Michael’s for the experience I had the previous summer, so I came up with the idea of starting a fundraiser walk. During times of disaster and hardships, it is so important for communities to come together and help one another regain some hope,” said Katie Paige. She began to ask friends and family to sponsor her walk by making contributions to St. Michael’s.
On June 21, following a few weeks of fundraising, Katie Paige began walking 21 miles around New Orleans, making her way from St. Michael’s, around Uptown, through City Park, and ending back at St. Michael’s. She was joined along the way by some of her classmates from Sacred Heart who wanted to support her initiative. Through this community-building experience, Katie Paige raised $3,500 for St. Michael’s and found a new sense of accomplishment for giving back in a creative way.
Since 1965, St. Michael’s has educated students age six through adulthood with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the partnership established between Sacred Heart at St. Michael’s over the years, many Upper School students choose support St. Michael’s through volunteerism. ASH also partners with St. Michael's Exploration Academy to provide young adults with a work setting one a week to assist in building and enhancing skills needed for employment in the community.