A Message from Helen Burland, Executive Director

Rising to the Challenge

April 2021

Dear Friends of Saint Catherine Center and Saint Catherine Academy,

Reflecting on this past year, we were challenged to strike a balance between reimagining our vision and persevering in what is essential. At times, we had to move aside those ideas, programs, and activities that were familiar and adopt new ones that safely met the needs of the young people we serve. But we held tight to the core values that support our mission: a commitment to the well-being and dignity of each individual; the importance of relationships in a nurturing community; and the experience of hope and joy through that community.

We rose to the challenge. We pushed forward. We reimagined.

We reopened in July with some trepidation but also with resolve to engage our students and young adults in meaningful learning and skill-building activities. The Center was set up very differently, with fewer desks in each room, plastic shields in common areas, signage reminding each of us how much six feet apart was. Joy was evident in everyone’s eyes over our face masks as the Saint Catherine Center community came together in-person again. Everyone was excited to be together, to learn again, to support each other through new challenges and share in each new accomplishment.

Everywhere there is evidence of perseverance: in the student first learning how to use a walker to navigate independently down the hall; in the young adult who reads a passage to her peers in book group; in a staff member who has newly joined the Center team. There is also evidence of a reimagined vision: in the smaller adult cohorts; in the remote learning support offered to students still homebound; in practicing vocational skills onsite; in the creative art projects proudly displayed in every room.

This past year, we have witnessed:

  • innovation through our use of technology;
  • empathy for our families as we shared the struggles of the pandemic;
  • talent, creativity and dedication of our staff;
  • generous and steadfast support from our donors.

It is with your support that we continue to both reimagine and persevere. Our annual “Joy & Gratitude” fundraising dinner was cancelled in 2020 and will be postponed this year until October. In the meantime, we ask you to consider joining us as we celebrate a recommitment to our mission, which did not take a day off. Will you join us in this journey?

Thank you for your past support. As we look ahead with a sense of hope, I hope we can count on your partnership.


Helen Burland
Executive Director

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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.