The Empowerment Academy, an opportunity to provide safe housing and stability for high school students who are homeless or near homeless, kicked off its fund drive June 12 in front of its future home, St. Angela Hall.
“We thank the Ursuline Sisters for partnering with the Empowerment Academy and allowing us to repurpose this beautiful, historic building,” said David Boswell, the former state senator who is chairman of the Empowerment Academy Board.
About 70 people filled the circle in front of St. Angela Hall to learn about the Empowerment Academy, which has a goal to empower students to take charge of their life’s direction. Students will continue to attend their high school but would live year round on the grounds at Maple Mount.
The crowd was hushed listening to a young woman tell how her life and the life of one of her friends could have turned out the same. They both lost fathers at a young age, and their mothers often selected unhealthy boyfriends. The young woman was fortunate to have the help of her grandparents to raise her, and she succeeded in school and will go to college in the fall on a full scholarship.
Her friend did not have the family support. Years of physical and mental abuse left him relying on the couches of friends for a place to stay. He struggled in school, got involved in drugs and was often asked to leave places without getting any of his possessions. His future is now uncertain.
“A stable, supportive environment would have meant so much to him,” she said. “That’s what supporting the Empowerment Academy can do.”
Sister Sharon Sullivan, congregational leader of the Ursuline Sisters and an Empowerment Academy Board member, was moved by the young woman’s story.
“In 1925, St. Angela Hall became the Mount Saint Joseph Junior College,” she said. “In 1950 it moved to Owensboro and became Brescia College. In 30 years, what will the Empowerment Academy become as it starts its moment of birth today?”
The Ursuline Sisters are providing the location for the Empowerment Academy, but do not have another role. “The mission of the Ursuline Sisters is education and Christian formation,” Sister Sharon said. “We passionately believe that education is transformative, but you have to have a way to access that education. We find this a marvelous marriage of missions.”
The Empowerment Academy must raise $1.4 million to renovate St. Angela Hall. Its first major donor was present at the 10 a.m. announcement. Curdsville Baptist Church closed its doors for the last time June 7, but after its members read about the Empowerment Academy in the newspaper, they decided to give all the money left to the project, the Rev. Jim Watts said.
He presented a check for $56,389.81 for the project.
St. Angela Hall houses the offices of Mission Advancement for the Ursuline Sisters, with the upper two floors used for storage. Those offices will be moved to another location on campus before renovation begins on St. Angela Hall.
To donate to the Empowerment Academy, mail contributions to:
Empowerment Academy Inc.
Attn: Brenda Clayton, CPA, Treasurer
119 E. Second St., Suite B
Owensboro, KY 42303