The Sherwood Program
Outreach has always been a vital aspect of the Santa Catalina community, so it’s no surprise that this year is bountiful with a variety of service projects. For the past years, one of Santa Catalina’s most prominent, hands-on service projects has been the Sherwood Program. I had the pleasure of speaking with the founder of the program, Ms. Duncan, about her experiences at Sherwood and how the program came to be.
When asked how she became interested in community service, Ms. Duncan explained, “Community service has been a big part of my adult life. I worked with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT for terminally ill children, the Easter Seals of Hawaii, Special Olympics, numerous soup kitchens and shelters, and many other projects. I always have felt ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ I connected with the Family Resource Center, on the Sherwood School campus, while delivering coats from our lower school for the group I work with outside of school doing service.” When the current senior class were freshmen, Ms. Duncan had the class go up to Sherwood to meet the girls. The next Fall, the whole Junior class was brought to Sherwood to do a few activities with the girls. Ms. Duncan commented, “So many students told me they were so moved by the experience and a few even told me ‘it was a life changing experience.’ I knew we needed to get a program going as did Coco Wang, who graduated last year. The two of us got to work on a proposal to get this service project going.”
The Sherwood program is currently in its fourth year, and at the conclusion of the second year, the Rofflers, whose daughter graduated last year, offered a contribution to the program. Ms. Duncan commented, “[The Roflers offered to contribute to the program] to make sure we would be able to enrich our program and keep it going strong. Their contributions have been a blessing.”
When asked about a favorite experience or memory at Sherwood, Ms. Duncan explained, “I have too many wonderful memories to start to list them, but every wonderful memory is connected to a smile on a child’s face. There was one event where I went over to a teacher from Sherwood who had tears running down her face. I asked if she was okay, and she said that one of her little girls who had not said a word at school, was running around with a big smile on her face and couldn’t stop talking. She could not believe the transformation. There are many joyful stories from our Catalina girls about how uplifting the program has been at difficult times in their lives, too.”
Ms. Duncan believes, “Sharing your gifts with others is one of the most joyful opportunities one can engage in, and community service provides that opportunity. Sherwood has been a perfect fit for us since we work with the girls, form special relationships, and we are able to lift each other up.” As a community, we have benefited and learned so much from the Sherwood girls; whether it be life skills like communicating with children, or other important values like kindness, generosity, and gratitude.
If you are interested in participating in an upcoming Sherwood event, there are plenty of opportunities offered throughout the year. There is a Christmas and book club event at the end of November, a poetry workshop in January, a science workshop in March, a beach cleanup/marine science day in April, and an actor’s workshop/book club in May. The program has already hosted a book club/journal event, a trip to the Girls’ Festival, and a picnic/The Wind in the Willows outing at Ms. Bradley’s house. There is an event for every girl and every interest. Not only has the program changed the lives of the Sherwood girls, but it has changed the lives of the Catalina girls as well. As a community, we look forward to all of the upcoming events and we hope this spectacular program continues for years to come.