The news was jarring. In Fall 2018, the Wellesley A Better Chance (ABC) program learned that Wellesley College would no longer make available the yellow house in the heart of Wellesley Square as a home-away-from-home for the ABC scholars. Since 1972, the college-owned property has been a constant in the lives of the students as they attend Wellesley High School as part of a boarding-school type program. The 4 – 6 students who are part of ABC in any given year are talented and promising young women of color who seek an academically rigorous high school curriculum. Following the WHS academic calendar, they live apart from their families when school is in session, returning home during school vacation weeks and summer break. Most come to Wellesley as 14-years-olds. Four years later, after experiencing the struggles of life far from home and the triumphs that their hard work has brought, they do what most of their WHS classmates do. They move on to the next step of attending a four-year college.
But the ABC scholars don’t succeed without a lot of community help, and they can’t reach their academic goals without a house. The Wellesley community wasn’t about to let the ABC program go without a fight. By late Fall 2018, the Board had kicked into gear, announcing a capital campaign to buy a new house. Presidents Catherine Ward and Ingrid Houghton at the time sounded almost like they were going into battle: “A permanent home will allow us to grow and thrive for decades to come. Better educational opportunities lead to better lives. This premise has been proven true year after year. Wellesley A Better Chance has helped educate nearly 100 women of color at Wellesley High School. All of our graduates have attended college and lead successful careers.”
The gloves were off, but in a nice way. In true Wellesley style, it was time to throw a gala. Springtime is always a nice time for such a soiree, dontcha think? The date of the “Home of Our Own” event was set for May 2019, but the donations came rolling in far before that, and they kept coming long after the successful fundraiser pulled in thousands for the cause.
Now Wellesley ABC has announced that the “Home of Our Own” campaign has reached its ultimate goal: on April 1, 2020, the Board is scheduled to close on a big, beautiful 4-bedroom home that can potentially expand to six bedrooms as needs change from year to year. The new place is much closer to WHS than the current home. All it needs is some minor maintenance chores before the girls, Resident Director Cynthia Russell, and Assistant Director/Academic Tutor Dedra Moore move in.
“The Board of Wellesley ABC is overwhelmed with the generosity of our community and appreciates all of the efforts the hundreds of volunteers and contributors have made to keep our 48-year program moving forward,'” said co-Presidents Ady Balog and Catherine Ward.
The ABC program needs some more help getting to 100% so that they can own the house free and clear. To contribute to this effort, volunteer to help, or for more information on the program, please visit ABC’s website: http://wellesleyabc.org/
“Fundraising has gotten the program to over 90% of its financial goal,” said Jay McHale, co-chair of the Capital Campaign. “ABC continues to seek additional funds so the approximately $1.2 million home can be purchased without a mortgage.”