College student, child of immigrants, credits growth to neighborhood center

Erika Sanchez, 21. (Submitted photo)

Erika Sanchez
Who she is: Student at Brooklyn College
Lives in: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sister Camille:  There's a high wall around the Convent of Mercy in the heart of Brooklyn. The former motherhouse of the Sisters of Mercy has been a landmark since 1862. Over time it has served as an orphanage and a residence for children whose parents were unable to care for them. Today it houses the main agency for Mercy Home, which provides for developmentally disabled adults who live in 13 supervised homes in Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau Counties.

Behind the protective wall on a busy street is a beautiful garden, about the size of a city block. In that garden is the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center, a free-standing, two-story building with multiple services for the neighborhood people. One of its most important services is an afterschool program that provides homework help and enrichment for the children, many of whom have parents who labor as recent immigrants from faraway places. Erika Sanchez, 21, is a graduate of that program.

How old were you when you began attending the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center?

Sanchez: I was around 9 years old.

Read the full story at National Catholic Reporter