Transition program honored for community service


Brittany Williams

Transition program students and staff accept award for community service.

KAYLA LANE, Staff Writer

Students and staff from Gloucester High School’s Transition Program were given the Outstanding Community Partner Award for their hard work and contribution as volunteers at the Open Door food pantry, and Second Glance store in Gloucester.

To kick off its fall fundraiser, Open Door held its annual community breakfast to honor individuals who contribute to the success of its programs. The breakfast was at Cruiseport Gloucester where Julie LaFontaine presented them with the award.

The transition program is a group of special education students aged eighteen to twenty two, that have academics in the morning at GHS, then volunteer in the afternoon . The goal of the program is to empower students to reach their full potential as they transition from school to work.

Sue Xavier, who helps run the program says she’s the “go to person” for planning and organizing goals. Roberta Cousins and Eileen Jermyn go out with the students in the afternoon when they volunteer.

“They are the heart of the program,” said Xavier. “They go out with the students every single day.”

At Second Glance, students have different responsibilities like tagging and hanging clothes, and even sometimes using the cash register.

“Going to The Glance is a great way to get out and help people,” said  Rosie Luce, a current student of the program. “If someone needs help, you help them you don’t just stand there.”

At the Open Door, the students sort food, stock shelves, and socialize with the customers, and the other volunteers. “It makes me feel happy to help people out.” said Richard Fisher.  “People need things and I listen.”

The program has been running for seven years and has helped many students over. A couple of students even landed jobs at places like Marshall’s, Shaws, and Market Basket.

Once they find a job, the transition coordinator maintains contact with the employer, and the student to see how they are doing. A former student Kristen Fulford addressed the audience about how much the program meant to her.

“Getting the job at Market Basket was a blessing. This program taught me how to handle produce,” said Fulford. “It’s a big honor to be recognized for our hard work.”