A Message from Helen Burland, Executive Director

Returning to Our Core Values

As we move into a year of growth and the expansion of our facility, we are also returning to our roots, the Core Values that we hold dear at Saint Catherine Center. These values are evident each day in the ordinary interactions and activities at the Center.

Respecting each person; serving all people; focusing on total well-being; creating a welcoming environment; celebrating abilities; building relationships; bringing hope and joy! Ours is a mission of action based on the belief that all individuals are valued. These simple, everyday stories are the foundation of our success and the source of our inspiration.

For example, when Francisco in the Adult Program came to us five years ago, he carried his backpack everywhere—to the gym, the bathroom, the playground. He did not have the words to explain why. Then one day, not too long ago, he began putting it away like the others in his group. He had developed a sense of belonging that comes from being accepted for who you are, where you can be yourself and open to others.

Dignity comes with a sense of purpose, of being needed and valued. Our vocational program, with nine partnering worksites, is so important because it offers our students and adults the opportunity to connect the skills they are learning with real-world work and to learn how they fit in the community. All last year, Anna wrapped silverware and set tables at Vazzy’s Restaurant. The experience led her to continue that work over the summer, getting the valuable peer experience of a summer job and a growing sense of independence.

In order to build relationships and connect with others, you need to be “seen.” When Tanisha first came to the Academy, she was reluctant to engage with anyone, sticking her tongue out and looking away. As she was recognized and encouraged, she began to feel safe. Now her common greeting is full of expression and engagement: “I see you!” she exclaims.

Saint Catherine Center is a place that pushes all to look beyond themselves—learning how to communicate without words, respect our differences, and trust each other as we take on new challenges. As our students and adults feel safe and respected, so do all who come in contact with the Center; as they experience kindness and compassion, so do the rest of us; as our students learn that joy and gratitude go hand in hand with perseverance and hard work, so do we all. This shared experience, grounded in our Core Values, defines our community and strengthens it every day.

I often think of Saint Catherine Center as the seat of a three-legged stool, supported by the “legs” of our dedicated staff, the trust and involvement of our participants and their families, and the generosity of our supporters. All three legs, of equal length and strength, are required. I hope you will consider a contribution to ensure that our endeavor—to value each individual and help them become as independent as possible—is successful. Your support makes it possible. Thank you.

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About Helen Burland

Helen Burland, Executive Director, joined Saint Catherine Academy and Center in 2008. She is a graduate of Fairfield University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Previously she was the Town Administrator for the Town of Madison. She served 8 years on the Madison Board of Education, including three years as Vice Chairman, and served as Chair of the Board of Finance. Helen has also served on the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions Board at Fairfield University.