Single Parents Program Receives Large Donation, Celebrates Holidays

This giving season, the Board of Trustees pledged $275K in honor of the Single Parents Program, which supports students who are single parents.

Champlain College hosts an annual Benefit Dinner to raise money and awareness for the Single Parents Program. This year’s event coincided with a special surprise. Charlie Kittredge, Chair of Champlain’s Board of Trustees, announced he and several trustees would pledge $275,000 in honor of the program.

“The success of our graduates is inextricably linked to the collective generosity of our community,” says Sarah Andriano, Champlain’s Interim Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “We are thankful to the trustees for their support.”

Donors and supporters of the Single Parents Program help give students the chance to achieve a college degree, an opportunity some never thought would be possible. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

The Single Parents Program provides exceptional advocacy and support to its participants. Students are offered workshops and access to resources and services designed to help them reach their educational and professional goals. For example, students attend a focused orientation program, individual meetings with our Student Resources Coordinator, social programming, and have access to emergency funding for unexpected expenses. We couldn’t offer these resources without the generous support from our donors and community.

The support students receive wouldn’t be possible without the program committee. Pictured above L to R: Champlain Major Gift Officer Veronica Lewis, committee members Lauren Koski, Liz Foster, Betsy Rich, Jessica Brumsted, with Champlain Interim President Laurie Quinn, Casey Blanchard, Erin Leduc ’22, Amy Vazquez, and Dominique Pecor. Not pictured: committee members Stephanie Gorin, Kim DuBrul, Lisa Lord ‘20, and honorary members Diana McCargo and Christine Stiller. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

“The Single Parents Program changed my life,” says Social Work major Cecilia Hayes ’21. Hayes moved to Vermont after earning a bachelor’s degree in Peru. She didn’t speak any English, but soon found herself calling the Green Mountain State her “home away from home.” It’s where her son was born.

Cecilia Hayes and her son Thaigo attended the 2019 benefit dinner at Philo Ridge Farm to tell their story and thank those who have supported their journey. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

In 2017, she became a para-educator in the local school district and realized she wanted to further her career in helping others. So, she explored her options for going back to school. The Single Parents Program made her dream a reality.

“I was worried about navigating college—how grades work, writing papers, and not having grown up in the American education system. But somehow, I managed to pass all my classes with As and Bs,” she says proudly. “Being a single parent in school is hard work, but the Single Parents Program makes me feel very supported and provides vital connections to all kinds of resources.”

Her son, Thaigo, is a student at Edmunds Elementary School, right in Champlain’s backyard. Sometimes, they even bike to school and eat lunch together in between classes.

“He is so excited that he can see my school from his school!” says Hayes. “What keeps me going is that I dream about a future for my son.”

Pictured at the 2019 Single Parents Program Benefit Dinner, L to R: Office of Diversity & Inclusion Director Ashley Michelle Fowler, Vice President of Student Affairs and Institutional Diversity and Inclusion Angela Battista, Cecilia Hayes, Thaigo, and Student Resources Coordinator Stephanie Doan. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

Fellow Champlainer, Kadie Brenes ’15, also dreams about a better future for others. She graduated with a Criminal Justice degree from Champlain and is now pursuing her master’s degree in Human Relations & Organizational Development with a graduate certificate in Conflict Resolution through Champlain College Online.

“The connections I have made at Champlain and through the Single Parents Program have been my gateway to fulfill my professional, personal, and academic goals,” says Brenes.

Kadie Brenes ’15 // Criminal Justice is pictured with two of her three children at the 2019 Single Parents Program Benefit Dinner. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

Brenes moved to America in 1995 from Costa Rica in search of a better life. She left high school to work and help support her family. “Family means everything to me,” she says.

Years later, after surviving an abusive relationship, she was committed to gaining an education and earned her GED. She moved to Vermont on a whim, sought support from COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter), and struggled to claim a full-time job to support her growing family.

Eventually, Brenes decided to take a big risk; a leap of faith. She quit her job and became a full-time student (on top of the full-time job of raising two young children).

“The connections you form in the Single Parents Program are priceless,” Brenes explains. “Attending lunches during the semester with other single parents gave me a community to belong to. I could see what other parents were going through, their similar challenges, and that we were all in it together.”

After graduation, Brenes landed a career in Human Resources at PC Construction Company—all thanks to a connection she made through the Single Parents Program.

“This program has given me so much,” Brenes said. “I share my story and encourage others to make a change for the better. I hope that one day, I can give more than my time, support, and encouragement. I want to be able to offer financial support to this amazing program and be the connection to a better life for someone else.”

Kadie Brenes’s children Dior and Tianna say a few words at the 2019 benefit dinner. Photo by Kathleen Landwehrle.

Single Parents Program Holiday Party

The holidays can be a joyful season, but it can also be a tough financial time for families. To help alleviate this stress, the Single Parents Program offers students financial assistance in buying gifts for their children. Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without spreading cheer. The program committee also hosts a holiday party for students to enjoy time with their kids and two special guests: a magician and the one, the only, Santa Claus.

Pictures with Santa are a tradition at the holiday party.
Kids are often amazed at the magic show.
They’re all smiles during the show, especially when they get to participate in the magic tricks.
A hat for the young lady!
Some gifts are bigger than those who receive them.
Say cheese!
Thaigo and the other children watch the magician with awe.

“The gift sponsorship relieved the stress of buying presents,” said Hayes. “Thiago (pictured above) was so excited at the party watching the magician and celebrating with the other kids. His excitement will continue through the holiday season when he opens his presents at home.”

“I love the small community feel at Champlain; it feels like a family,” she added.

We invite you to be a part of the community supporting the Single Parents Program by making a gift today at champlain.edu/donate.

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