Care Center Celebrates Students

HOLYOKE — The Care Center will celebrate its students and staff at its annual dinner at the Log Cabin Tuesday, April 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will feature performances and speaking by Care Center students, including ballroom dancing. More than 400 people are expected to attend to learn more about and raise funds for The Care Center, which has provided services to thousands of pregnant and parenting teen mothers and their children since opening in 1986.

“What our students are able to accomplish is nothing short of astonishing,” said Care Center Executive Director Anne Teschner, who will also speak at the event. “In the face of daunting personal circumstances, they work hard to become outstanding citizens, students and parents, and ready for higher education. We’re proud to share the results with the community.”

The oldest and largest comprehensive young parents program in Massachusetts, The Care Center has been instrumental in helping pregnant and parenting teens surmount a magnitude of emotional, economic and health problems. Holyoke has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Massachusetts. Initially located in the Holyoke Hospital, The Care Center moved to its 247 Cabot Street location in 1991.

Each year, more than 140 pregnant and parenting teens and 85 babies attend The Care Center. All of center’s students have dropped out of school, and most receive public assistance. At The Care Center, students attend academic classes in preparation for the GED; participate in the arts, humanities and athletics; and are provided with on-site daycare, counseling, assistance with the transition to higher education and employment, nutritious food and transportation.

In addition to its innovative programs for pregnant and parenting teens, The Care Center is the only Clemente Course in the Humanities site in the nation developed exclusively for women. The Clemente Course, begun in New York City in 1995, offers tuition-free college courses to income-eligible people in a number of cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles. The Clemente Course uses the work of great thinkers and great artists to improve students’ reading, writing and thinking skills and confront moral and philosophical questions. The Holyoke program is the result of a partnership between The Care Center, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

The celebration event is being sponsored by Weiss Consulting, Peoples Bank and the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. Dinner and dancing are free, and people will be invited to make a meaningful gift at the event, which begins at 6 p.m. Members of the general public may attend by calling (413) 532-2900, ext. 128, by Monday, April 28. For more information about The Care Center, visit its Web site at www.carecenterholyoke.org.