Westborough High School Students See Life with a New Perspective

WESTBOROUGH _ A group of Westborough High School girls were given the opportunity to not only broaden their horizons, but to learn and experience powerful, funny women of the media at the Annual Luncheon to benefit Rosie’s Place in Boston, held on Oct. 24. This year’s Master of Ceremonies was Susan Wornick of WCVB-5 and the headliner of the event was comedian Caroline Rhea.

The event is held each year to support Rosie’s Place, a safe, nurturing environment that helps poor and homeless women by providing meals, shelter and creating permanent solutions for them through advocacy, education and affordable housing.

Established in 1974 by founder KipTiernan, Rosie’s Place was the first drop-in and emergency shelter for women in the United States. Each year Rosie’s Place celebrates victories, both big and small for the women it services at this luncheon.

CEO Deborah Penta, of Penta Communications, Inc. has provided support to Rosie’s Place for four years through sponsoring a table at the luncheon as well as serving on the Anniversary Committee several years ago. This year, instead of sharing the Rosie’s story with female clients and community leaders, she felt giving local high school girls the opportunity to see and experience a roomful of “powerful women from the greater Boston area,” all banding together for an important cause, was a something she needed and wanted to do.

Penta contacted Westborough High School teacher Darrell Potosnak and offered her the table for some of her female students, who were in her three accounting classes. Several years ago, Penta had the opportunity to work with Potosnak as a Junior Achievement consultant to her class and through a Make-A-Wish project.

Students who attended the event were Danielle Coffey, Alexa Ebert, Lindsey Flood, Caitlin Donovan-Mailhoit, Kay Arnold, Jaclyn Debs, Makala Perri, Emily Driscoll and Jenn McElligott.

A highlight for the girls was taking an Escalade limo into Boston for the event. AA Transportation of Shrewsbury donated the limo.

“Attending an event like the Rosie’s Place Annual Luncheon is a very moving experience and I hope the girls that attended from Westborough High School learned how the strength of a community bonding together can positively impact people with specific needs,” Penta said. “My hope is that the young women will recognize they too can make a difference in the lives of others and they have the ability to do great things with the talents they have.” According to Potosnak, the event was quite moving for the girls.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to share with my students. The students were touched by the speakers, and the stories of how easily life can change with the loss of a job or other unexpected events,” she said.

Potosnak said the girls were stunned by some of the things they heard.

“I think it is shocking that there are 1,500 homeless women in Boston and 1,400 women were at the luncheon,” student Lindsey Flood said. “It puts it into perspective how many women that really is.”

Emily Driscoll and Kay Arnold concurred.

“I am amazed to think there are 1,500 women who are homeless in Boston alone,” Arnold added.

“I think it was inspiring and uplifting hearing the stories of people who succeeded because of Rosie’s Place,” Driscoll said. “It is also amazing to think that they were able to raise $108,000 and counting for the centerpieces alone.”

Rosie’s Place relies solely on donations and does not receive any city, state or federal funding.

This fact stunned Mikayla Perri.

“I think it is just amazing that the government doesn’t fund Rosie’s Place,” she said. “I think it is great that Rosie’s Place doesn’t just provide a home for the women but also provides further education so that women develop life skills.”

“This year Rosie’s Place enrolled 150 students into its Adult Education program.”

“The girls were able to see that with help from organizations like Rosie’s Place, women are able to obtain skills to reenter the workforce and become productive members of society and eventually give back to their community,” Potosnak said. “I believe it will be a lesson they will keep with them for the rest of their lives.”