Hundreds of local school children are prepared to make this Mother’s Day extra special, thanks to a community-wide program that is making a dazzling impression with students, their families and teachers.
For the eighth consecutive year, a team of community volunteers, co-led for the last five of those years by two attorneys at Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, a full-service business law firm with operations throughout New York, and the owner of Invenio Recruiting, once again partnered with the Rochester City School District to conduct the special Mother’s Day Jewelry Shop program in two local schools.
Approximately 600 students in grades K-6 at Schools 42 and 52 took part in the program, which rewards students who achieve attendance and behavior goals by inviting them to a special shop event, where they can select Mother’s Day gifts from among hundreds of pieces of donated costume jewelry. The event was co-chaired by Harter Secrest & Emery attorneys Erika N.D. Stanat and Jodi Reynolds, and Kate Cummins, a former associate at Harter Secrest & Emery and current principal of Invenio Recruiting.
The program aims to address issues of financial need and encourage school attendance and good behavior on the part of Rochester City School District students. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the childhood poverty rate in Rochester was 51.9 percent at the end of 2017.
“This is a special day for everyone who participates in the program,” Stanat said. “The students are excited and proud to have the chance to choose a gift for someone special to them. Their teachers and administrators are able to leverage the program to encourage the attendance, work and behavior that will benefit the students long-term. We’re thrilled, as volunteers and as members of this community, to support that work, even in a small way, because we know the challenges many of the children in our community face.”
In order to earn the opportunity to attend the shops set up at each school, students must have a 90 percent attendance rate and must maintain a record of good behavior at their school.
“Student success begins with attending school every day, and I cannot imagine a more thoughtful Mother’s Day gift than one earned by a child who worked hard to maintain good attendance and positive behavior in school,” said Daniel G. Lowengard, Superintendent for the Rochester City School District. “The District is appreciative of the generosity from Harter Secrest & Emery, Mann’s Jewelers, and the many community partners and volunteers who have supported our students through the Mother’s Day Jewelry Shop for the past eight years.”
The Mother’s Day Jewelry Shop program is supported by the tireless work of a network of volunteers, a giving community spirit, and the generous partnership of Mann’s Jewelers. In support of the program, volunteers collect, clean, sort, and bag donations of gently-used costume jewelry for the shops. Mann’s has assisted with the collection efforts in the past, accepting donations in their stores, while also cleaning, sorting and bagging donated items.
“Even after eight years, seeing the smiles on the students’ faces never gets old,” said Reynolds. “In the hands of a student, each piece of jewelry, which was likely donated by someone they’ve never met, is like a treasure. It’s amazing to think that, since our first year, thousands of students have been able to feel the same excitement and joy that we are seeing from the students walking through the shop today.”
“This event is built upon the principles of community,” added Cummins. “To know that people and organizations from every corner of our community participate, and to see how our volunteer network has grown, makes me proud. At its heart, the aim of the program is to help children want to achieve more through education, which is the best gift we can give to any child.”
Now in its eighth year in Rochester, the Mother’s Day Jewelry Shop program has been a remarkable success. From 2012 – 2014, the program was run in one school. In 2015, the program was expanded to include at least two schools each year. In its first eight years, the program has enabled qualifying students to select more than 4,000 pieces of jewelry as Mother’s Day gifts for their mothers or female caregivers.